We all love watching football on television or even live when our favourite team is playing and we all say "oh I could manage the team better". Well I get to do it in real life as one of the many thousands of grassroots football coaches around the U.K. who volunteer to coach the beautiful game to youngsters.
I got involved with grassroots football back in 2010, when I got my youngest nephew involved in a football club called Chadderton Park. At the time I knew very little about them or what they did, but just 18 months later I had become a qualified F.A. coach and I took over the running of my nephews team , the start of an incredible journey into grassroots football.
What I didn’t know was just how big Chadderton Park F.C. was at the time or how big we would make it a few years later.
Chadderton Park was formed in 1979 next year, 2019, will be the clubs 40th anniversary which is quite an achievement. The club is one of the biggest in the UK and in 2013 it was renamed Chadderton Park Sports Club when we introduced Netball and Rounder’s into the club. 2013 also saw the creation of the Chadderton Park Veterans League for the over 35's which has had a number of high profile stars who occasionally come along to play in the matches like Paul Scholes, Andy Ritchie, BBC Radio Manchester D.J. Mike Sweeney and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.
As a club we also support other groups including those who operate orphanages in three African countries – Uganda, Kenya and recently Rwanda where we recycle our old football kits and football boots. These are sent to orphanages were the children are delighted to receive them, not many teams can say they have extended teams across the world. We also support local charities and for last four years we have had a Christmas food collection for the Oldham Food-bank, where all teams and players donate food to this great cause. This year we have just had an Easter egg collection for the Oldham Food-bank. The aim was to collect 200 Easter Eggs, but with help from all the teams, supporters and a couple of outside doners we collected a staggering 653 Easter Eggs!
A huge achievement, back in May 2014, was the launch of Cerebral Palsy football. We were one of the first clubs in the Northwest to offer children aged 4 to 16 with C.P. the chance to play football and this group has gone from strength to strength. We now have approximately 50 children registered, five F.A. affiliated teams and some of the players also train once a week at the Etihad Campus with Manchester City coaches, furthermore one of our players is now training and playing with the England C.P. development squad. Other Cerebral Palsy teams are being formed around the country and we can proudly say that they are using our team as the blueprint to build on.
The club has won numerous awards from the Manchester F.A. including Community Club of the Year along with various sport awards including the Oldham and Greater Manchester Club of the Year Award.
Just last year, we had our two greatest achievement’s. First we were nominated for the 2017 National Diversity Awards, in which we were selected as one of the six finalists in our category although this time, unfortunately, we were not successful. The other achievement saw the club being recognised by the Queen herself and it became Chadderton Park Sports Club MBE and we were awarded the prestigious Queens Award for Voluntary Service. Now the teams get to wear the Queens Award Logo on their football kits – not many teams can do that.
At the end of 2017 we started our latest project, Steppers Walking Group. This initiative is in support of Mental Health Awareness and is a group were people can come along and enjoy a walk and a nice 'cuppa' while socialising with others.
We are proud of our achievement’s and also the great opportunities that we offer to a wide range of people, regardless of age or ability, to take part in some form of activity and I am 'chuffed' to be part of such a fantastic club. Hang on, I never even got to tell you about the football that I coach. If you would like to know more please follow the C.P.S.C. links.