NEIL BONNAR: Armies of volunteers make kids football such a treat for parents to savour

Neil Bonnar

Neil Bonnar

First published in Sport

IT took me back watching a game of kids football at Eagley Sports Complex last Saturday.

And it takes me aback why anyone should criticise people who contribute to putting on games like this.

The contest in question was Eagley v Bolton County under-9s in the Bolton and Bury District Football League.

It was a beautiful sunny morning and I was working; well, they call it work – what it really was was a wonderful couple of hours seeing grassroots sport at its most pure, fun and happy.

I was shown around the complex’s refurbished clubhouse by chairman Brian Catterall, made a brew by coach Lee Yates and given a snapshot of what it takes to run a team by home u9s manager Dawn Woolham.

Both sets of coaches and parents were friendly to me, helpful when it came to identifying who did what on the field, and supportive of both sets of young players.

And the quality of football was fabulous.

I’ve been hearing a lot about how coaches in Bolton are trying to get our young players playing the game the right way from a very early age.

On Saturday I saw it. Nine-year-olds passing, moving, controlling the ball and keeping possession – it was a joy to watch.

Suddenly there was a mighty cheer from another pitch on the other side of the cricket square.

A goal had been scored and the adults connected with the joyous team were celebrating as if it was a cup final (which it probably was).

It reminded me how much fun adults get out of kids’ football.

I did myself for six years and I quite envied those people who watch their kids every Saturday.

It can be the best entertainment of the week and all it costs them is the petrol to get to the ground and a few pounds in subscriptions a week.

Brian told me how hard it is to run an organisation like Eagley.

The hours and effort volunteers have to put in just to keep a club going is immense.

Their reward is the satisfaction and pride in knowing they are providing sport for people to play and enjoy.

It is a similar story for the officials of each individual team within each club – two or three committed people who raise money and do the administrative duties.

And then there are the coaches who try to help the youngsters become the best football players they can be.

And, lastly, let’s not forget the league officials who make it all possible.

But for all these people there would be no sport, nothing for kids to do on a Saturday morning, and nothing for the parents to enjoy and store up happy mental memories of their little ’un’s enjoyment of playing our national sport.

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