Young footballers in a Northumberland town are taking aim at developing their skills thanks to a four-figure grant from a regional employer.
For junior players at Cramlington United Football Club now have new sets of goals to use in their seven and nine-a-side matches, thanks to a £5,000 grant from The Banks Group, via its Banks Community Fund.
Based at the Northburn Sports and Community Centre, Cramlington United Football Club has a wholly inclusive philosophy of providing opportunities for children and adults to become involved in football regardless of age, sex, religion or ability, and currently has more than 360 players on its books, a number which is increasing all the time.
The club was formed in 2010, and was awarded Community Club Status by the Football Association, which recognises the highest standards in club development and football provision, within 12 months, a feat which no other UK football club had ever previously achieved.
As part of its community-focused ethic, the club also has a unique long-standing partnership with The Teenage Cancer Trust, and raises money for the charity through different activities through the year.
Cramlington United Football Club is open seven days a week for matches and training, and it recently started junior and senior teams for players with disabilities, which are managed by a specialist coach and play in a local league.
The new goalposts, which are being used for both training and matches, were required as part of wider changes to football coaching which put greater emphasis on junior players learning skills and playing in smaller groups and on smaller pitches.
Club chairman Dave Malone says: “The club has grown quite phenomenally over the last six years, from having six junior teams when we started to running more than 30 junior, senior, ladies and disability teams today, and our whole philosophy is built around giving anyone who wants to play the opportunity to do so in an environment where we maintain the highest possible standards of football provision.
“Football coaching is evolving to give young players the chance to develop their skills and become comfortable on the ball in more suitable coaching and playing environments, part of which is through using equipment and pitches that are more suited to their ages.
“We would have had to carry on managing with what we had without the Banks Group’s generous support, which would have been far from ideal, and their contribution means we’ll be able to speed up the process of getting other new equipment and resources into the club with the funds we raise ourselves.”
Jeannie Kielty, development relations coordinator at The Banks Group, says: “The energy and commitment that the players and coaches at Cramlington United put into their football is really inspiring, and they set the highest standards for both how a community sports club should be run and how everyone can be given the chance to get involved.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of both operational and proposed Banks Group projects. Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.