Premier League star buys tickets for unemployed supporters on Merseyside
Published 04/08/2014 | 14:56
Steven Naismith hopes his donation of Everton tickets to unemployed people in Liverpool can provide a much-needed morale boost.
The 27-year-old Toffees forward will buy home tickets throughout the season that will be distributed to different Jobcentres across the city and given out to those working hard to try to find a job.
Speaking to Press Association Sport at a Jobcentreplus in Toxteth, Naismith said: "I've tried to think of some different ideas that will make a difference since I've been at Everton and this was one that was simple and should probably have been thought about before.
"It was just working out what was the best way to do it, tying in with the Jobcentre and giving the tickets to people who have been working hard to try to find a job or get interviews and having a hard time.
"People can lose confidence and give up so hopefully this can help boost their morale and show there are rewards for the hard work they're doing and keep them motivated to try to find a job.
"I've seen it close to me with friends and family so I understand how tough it can be and how low people can get when they're trying hard and nothing's coming of it. I know these wee things do make a difference."
Naismith, who joined Everton from Rangers in 2012, is no stranger to charity work and helps homeless centres in Liverpool and his former home city of Glasgow.
He also launched a project in Glasgow to help injured service personnel back to mainstream employment and is an ambassador for Dyslexia Scotland.
"There's a unique platform in the job that I'm in that you can reach a lot of people and I'll definitely be willing to do most things if I think it's a worthy cause and it's going to make a difference," said Naismith.
"The things I've done in the past have been very successful and hopefully this will be another thing that runs smoothly and proves successful for the community."
Naismith's gesture is a recognition that Premier League tickets are often out of the reach of ordinary fans but the Scotland international believes elite football is not as disconnected from local communities as is often made out.
"There's a lot of good things footballers do," he said.
"Some things do get noticed and some things don't. I think there's probably a minority that are disconnected from fans but I've not come across many that are.
"I think it's something that's very exaggerated and probably Chinese whispers from one person to the next whereas, when people do meet these guys, they're down-to-earth guys who have come from very humble backgrounds.
"They do realise what people go through in day-to-day life."