Page 29 - ONSIDE Issue 29

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As we were going from strength to strength, the
marvellous Foundation continued to suppor t us
with new goal posts to replace old ones and an
£8,800 grant to grow our club over three years,
funding additional coach education and facility hire.
With playing numbers rising to 120, and only
a single grass pitch and a shipping container to
suppor t our activities, it was time to make our
boldest move yet.
In 2007, we joined forces with the Longhoughton
Village Development Trust (LVDT) who were
seeking to get a much needed community venue
for our village. As a well organised and expanding
club, we in turn, were in desperate need for a
winter training facility and toilets/changing rooms.
Indeed, the nearest synthetic turf pitch for outdoor
winter training was over 20 miles away and such a
facility would also benefit a wide range of clubs in
our district.
Our co-operation with the LVDT was a perfect
fit and together we embarked on a mission to
fund and build a Football and Community Facility,
all the while suppor ted by our Parish Council. In
2008, our effor ts paid off and we got an amazing
£1m from the Foundation – with the cheque
presented to us by Steven Taylor at St James’ Park.
The necessary £500,000 of matched-funding came
from amongst others, Alnwick District Council
(£300,000) and the Royal Air Force (£180,000) in
suppor t of its local families.
The resultingWestfield Park Football and
Community Venue, which opened in 2009, is a
triumph and shows what can be achieved when
a community comes together. Built on farmland,
it consists of a community venue with a function
room, office, small meeting room, kitchen, four
team changing rooms and two officials’ changing
rooms. Outside is a large car park, two high spec
full-size grass football pitches with state-of-the-art
drainage and a third generation ar tificial grass pitch
allowing year-round training.
The facility has enabled the club to expand fur ther
and we now have around 200 players aged six to
adulthood playing football at the club.Wor thy of
note is our new ladies team, a number of whom
haven’t played spor t since school and some of
whom have children playing at the club as well!
The club’s progress would simply not have been
possible without the incredible effor ts of our
volunteers.We currently have 30 FA qualified
coaches who give up huge amounts of their
time for free, and a number of whom are also
Directors on the LVDT which runs Westfield Park.
Even when retiring from coaching many of the
volunteers stay on to assist in other ways, a great
example being JohnWhittle, a founding member
who coached a team from Under 10 to adult
and though now retired from coaching, has now
become our head groundsman!
To help sustain our club, we have a youth
mentoring programme to train our wonderful
young people to be coaches and referees, which
enables them to develop themselves whilst giving
something back to the club.
IndeedWestfield Park also serves as a wonderful
community venue for Guides, Brownies, Zumba
classes, mums-and-tots, theWomen’s Institute,
Christmas carols, senior citizens carpet bowls and
much more.
I have always been amazed at people’s incredible
generosity, limitless enthusiasm and endless good
humour in helping run the club to ensure our
kids have the best possible footballing experience.
Those that maybe cannot commit time, readily
suppor t us in other ways by sponsoring teams
and helping us maintainWestfield Park through
their business. For example, when we experienced
high winds we had some slates fall off the roof
and one of the parents who is a roofer, dropped
everything and came and spent all day repairing it
for the cost of the materials.
It’s a lot of work and endless administration
mixed in with numerous challenges but the
ongoing positive feedback makes it all wor thwhile.
We have a great relationship with Newcastle
United and some of the young teams were
for tunate enough to train at Newcastle United’s
training centre. After one such experience, one of
the kids told me ‘it was the happiest day of his life.’
It really is a family affair. My wife Pam is club
secretary (and qualified FA coach) and puts an
enormous amounts of energy into running the
club whilst my eldest, Matthew, has played through
the age groups and now plays in our men’s team,
whilst also refereeing and coaching at the club.
Andrew, my other son, will follow and is about to
do his referee course.
So that’s it in a nutshell. It really is a case of ‘if you
build it, they will come’.The future for our club is
bright as we plan to star t the kids younger. In 2009
The FA recognised our work and made us their
National Char ter Standard Development Club of
theYear – the first time a Club in Nor thumberland
had won a National Char ter Standard award.
Not only does football keep the kids active and
engaged in a fun spor ting activity with all the
positive health benefits – it also teaches them
about friendship, teamwork, respect, discipline
and so many other fantastic social skills.
However, in our area it has also brought people
together and helped shape our local society with
impressive results for the wider community.
It truly is the beautiful game!
For more information about the club visit
or visit the
facility’s website
| The Football Foundation Magazine | Issue 29