Rochdale AFC Community Trust began operations in September 1987 as one of the country’s very first ‘Football in the Community’ initiatives.

Football in the Community was the brainwave of Micky Burns and the Professional Footballers Association, as they sought ways of supporting players into employability once their careers finished.

Projects were initially set up at Manchester City, Manchester United, Bolton Wanderers, Oldham Athletic, Preston  North End and Bury, followed six months later by Rochdale and five other clubs.

The Rochdale AFC Football in the Community programme officially launched on 14th September 1987 and saw Keith Hicks, take up his role three  weeks later on October 5th.

Former footballer Hicks was forced to retire from the game after sustaining  an injury  during a match against Crewe Alexandra at Spotland, and  returned  to the club to take up the community role, one he did with distinction for the  next 33 years before retiring.

The original aims and  objectives set out for Rochdale AFC were to encourage more people (especially children) to play football, to encourage more people  to become support Rochdale AFC by forging closer links between the club and  the local community by using club facilities and using players to act as role  models. There were always close links to the academy, as The Dale sought  the next first team player from the school and grassroots club.

In the early 2000’s, Football in the Community started to change slightly, as  the FA and County FA took responsibility for grassroots football  development  and the  emergence of the ‘Elite Player Performance Pathway’ to   recognise  and recruit talented players. The emergence of modern marketing channels to  attract new fans also led to a major rethink on the future  direction of Football  in the Community schemes.

In 2007, Rochdale AFC  Football in the Community Scheme LTD was born,  continuing much of the work in the same way but with a  renewed focus on  the wider responsibility of football clubs in the societies in which they operate.

Schools football coaching programmes and holiday clubs were supplemented  by work in social inclusion, community cohesion, health and education.

Now acting as a registered  charity with a board of trustees independent of  the football club, the trust (known as  Rochdale AFC in the  Community and  Rochdale AFC Community Sports Trust over this time) began to grow.

2020 saw the coronavirus  pandemic halt the usual  activities, although the  trust adapted to support the most vulnerable. The long serving Keith Hicks  decided to hang up his boots and whistle and the trust enters its next new era  with a renewed mission based on the same principals that have benefitted  many Rochdalians in the years gone by.