Bournemouth University and AFC Bournemouth celebrated their official partnership during the Cherries Premier League game against Chelsea, which was designated as the BU Big Match.
The BU Big Match this year was on the theme of inclusivity, with a range of activity in and around the stadium before and during the game.
BU's Schools Liaison team were based in the Junior Cherries fanzone before the game showcasing BU's excellence in forensics and archaeology and getting young fans to have a look at artefacts and try their hand at archaeology.
AFC Bournemouth's match day programme was full of content about the partnership, including a double page spread talking about the benefits of the partnership for both organisations, as well as the way BU is supporting girls' and women's football through community activities. The programme was also used to talk about BU's support for the Cherries' We Are Allies campaign, which promotes equality and diversity across the football club.
Jeff Mostyn, AFC Bournemouth Chairman, said in his programme notes, "Today's match is also designated the BU Big Match, celebrating our wonderful collaboration with Bournemouth University, wore are the official higher education partner of AFC Bournemouth. The theme of this year's match is inclusivity, looking at the work the university, alongside the football club, does to chamption equality and diversity in our community and in the workplace."
Before the game, BU honorary doctor and former AFC Bournemouth club photographer Dr Sophie Cook featured on the big screens outside the stadium talking about how both organisations work together to champion inclusivity.
BU's logo appears on the girls' football shirts from under-10 to under-16 levels. Additionally, BU's men's and women's teams benefit from Premier League training by AFC Bournemouth coaches, with a number of players from the women's team going on to play for AFC Bournemouth's women's teams. A video was created to show the benefit of the partnership for girls' and women's football, and was shown outside the stadium, as well as played for fans inside the stadium at half time.
Members of the girls' teams were invited to be flag bearers for the game, wearing their BU kits while the players walked onto the pitch.
Speaking before the game, Jim Andrews, Chief Operating Officer at Bournemouth University, said, “We’re so proud to support our local football team as they play on one of the biggest stages of world football, and we’re continually impressed by their work off the pitch, in the community, as well as their performances on the pitch. This partnership brings two of Dorset’s biggest organisations together and we’re delighted that our support can extend to benefit fans and the Cherries girls’ teams, as well as our own BU community.”
BU staff were invited onto the pitch at halftime for a photo to help showcase the partnership benefits for BU staff too.
For more information about BU's partnership with AFC Bournemouth, visit: www.bournemouth.ac.uk/afc-bournemouth