A thriving Durham City community football club is aiming to get even more local kids out on the pitch thanks to a four-figure grant from a regional employer.

Belmont United Football Club was founded in 2019 with a view to giving up ten local kids the chance to play a few matches and develop their footballing skills.

But after just two years, the club has more than 120 junior players on its books and runs eight junior teams, two adult teams and a girls under 9s team.

To help keep up with demand for equipment from its growing player roster, the club has been awarded a £1,000 Banks Community Fund grant by The Banks Group which is being used to buy a wide range of new kit, including balls, bibs, goals, training poles and cones.

The club hosts training sessions several nights a week at Belmont Community Centre and also runs Mini Dribblers sessions for younger children who want to start to learn how to play the game.

It draws its members predominantly from the Belmont, Carville and Sherburn areas, and with pandemic rules now allowing outdoor team sports to take place once again, it is hoping to attract even more local children along to get involved.

Coach Phil Scope says: “What started out as just a small project to give a few of our kids something else to do has mushroomed into something busier and more popular than we ever thought possible.

“It’s a huge team effort from everyone involved and we couldn’t have achieved everything that we’ve done so far without our fantastic coaches and volunteers.

“The club is about much more than playing football – it’s great for getting and keeping young people active, which is good in turn for their mental health, for making new friends, and for starting to learn about teamwork and cooperation.

“It’s also great for parents, who not only see their kids running around in the fresh air, but can also get a little bit of valuable time to themselves while they’re watching.

“We try to keep costs as low as we can to make the club accessible for as many local families as possible, but there are always new things that need paying for, whether it’s extra balls and bibs for a growing year group or equipment that needs replacing after getting worn out or broken.

“The support we’ve had from the Banks Group means we know we can keep providing the equipment that our players needs and now that we’re able to get out playing together again, we’re hoping to see even more local youngsters coming along to our sessions.”

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, adds: “Belmont Utd has made amazing progress in a short space of time.

“Its focus on inclusion, skills development and enjoyment is everything that a community sports club should aspire to, and the enthusiasm of players, coaches and parents is plain to see.

“We’ve been a longstanding supporter of many different clubs and sports across our home county and it’s great to be able to add yet another one to the list.”

Anyone from a community close to a Banks Group project who is interested in applying for funding from the Banks Community Fund should first contact the fund manager via fundmanager@bankscommunityfund.org.uk or on 0191 378 6342 before applying for a grant to check if their group or project is eligible.