West Leeds Juniors: Celebrating the first 12 months

4 July 2016

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West Leeds Juniors was formed a year ago providing sports, healthy living, fitness and community spirit to young people primarily living in Armley, Wortley, Farnley and the surrounding areas of West Leeds. In this guest post, chairman Jamie Grand highlights the club’s progress over the past 12 months…

The amount we have achieved in this first year is incredible, and the leadership team are very proud of the strides we are making.

Our first Saturday morning class last September was attended by just a couple of children, and we are now joined by over 40 in our three separate classes. We have registered with the Charities Commission and have gained the interest of a number of sponsors and community partners. Our reputation is growing in the West Leeds area and beyond, and there is much more to come.

Whilst June is supposed to be down time in the footballing calendar, we have been as busy as ever at West Leeds HQ. Here is a run-down of some of our recent activities, and what can be expected in the months ahead:

First Touch Football – Dates for your diary:

The last First Touch Football classes before the summer break will be on 16 July 2016. After a short break, we will take a series of summer classes on our home ground at Farnley Hall Park. We are really excited to give the children the opportunity to play on the grass.

These classes will be taking place between 6 August 2016 and 3 September 2016, and will run at the same times as the current FTF classes. We hope you will be able to join us during the summer holidays.

We will return to our usual First Touch Football Schedule after Swallow Hill has reopened, on 10 September 2016.

New Wortley Festival

It was an honour to be asked to deliver some sporting activities at the New Wortley Festival. We were set up on the sports pitch at Castleton Primary School, and asked local youngsters to challenge themselves in a number of tasks.

These included a standing long jump, penalty bowling and a timed balance test. The competitive nature of children was in full force, and I challenged each child to better their own records by trying again. I was able to offer little technical tips to help improve their scores too.

One boy took numerous attempts to set his personal best on the long jump, and even tracked me down at the end of the day to see if anybody had beaten it. They hadn’t!

My four year old son and I stuck around for the afternoon and took in some of the acts on show at the newly built Community Centre. We were treated to a brass band, the impressive percussion from South Asian Arts and even witnessed a belly dancing class. Neither of us joined in the latter.

I felt a great sense of community spirit from the event, which brought together people from all backgrounds for a single purpose. I sincerely hope that West Leeds Juniors will play a continuous role in enhancing community cohesion in the area.

Primary School Olympics

I was equally pleased to assist with the running of the Primary School Olympics at the John Charles Centre. This event featured the majority of the Primary Schools from the Armley and Farnley/Wortley wards.

Hundreds of children attended, and took part in track races as well as a number of field based events. The Young Leaders from both Swallow Hill and Farnley Academy were leading the different stations, and I made myself useful by assisting them.

Once again, I was impressed by the attitudes and energy of the young leaders. Image is everything with teenagers, and it can sometimes be hard to adopt a mind set for coaching much younger children. The group I worked with were more than willing to adapt themselves to deal with the Primary School children, and should be very proud of the smooth manner in which the event ran.

Following on from this event, I have invited a couple of the young leaders to join us at First Touch Football. I’m sure you will welcome them when you next see them in class.

Pudsey Juniors Gala

Our Year 1 team took to their second gala on 26th June at Crawshaw Academy. This time we had the benefit of playing in five different games against well-established clubs.

Our growth from the first gala was clear for everyone to see. The players were showing confidence and determination through all the games, and made everybody watching very proud. This level of growth in a short space of time is early evidence of the positive impact of our philosophy.

The children are making decisions themselves, and learning every time they do. Some coaches still attempt to feed instructions to their players at every second. Whilst they think it is helping, the learning process of the individual child is stunted.

The referee on pitch two, who officiated all of our games, was a fantastic example of how to manage mini soccer. He engaged with the players and made every effort to learn their names. He praised effort as well as execution, and (perhaps most importantly) allowed the game to be played with minimal disruption. I will be passing on my compliments to Pudsey Juniors on his conduct.

As before, I must pay tribute to the friends and families of our players. Myself and Roy were stood among the families during the games, and we are proud to have such positive support for our members. The importance of this cannot be overstated.

The children always look over to their loved ones when they are playing. As well as having a lot of fun, they are hoping to make you happy and proud. The positive reactions from our supporters will help to fuel that love of learning that I constantly write about. For as long as this continues, our children will continue on a great upwards learning curve.

Registration Day

Sticking with the Year 1 group, we have scheduled our registration day for Saturday 9th July at 12:30 after the First Touch Football Class. Please therefore ensure that parents and children stay back after class to go through the necessary paperwork. This will mean that our players are ready to take part in the scheduled fixtures from September 2016 when the new season starts. I will be writing a further letter to all families shortly, which will include our Welcome Pack and Welfare Information.

New Match Day Kit

Our first kit is just about ready, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it looks brilliant. These will be handed out to players on the above registration day, and can be used in any galas that we play after this date. Many thanks to the guys at BML Sports for supplying the kit, and an extra special thanks to our Sponsors at Manning Stainton, Wortley branch.

Still to come…

I will be meeting with the leadership team in July to conduct our End of Year review. This gives us an opportunity to take stock of everything we have achieved so far, and indeed the things we are still striving towards.

I look forward to communicating the outcome of this meeting, as well as some of our development plans.

We are due to announce our new Club Welfare Officer in the near future, who will take a leadership role within the club. Welfare and good practice are of paramount importance to us, and we are pleased to be appointing somebody who will be on hand to ensure that we are always taking the necessary steps to offer your children the best guidance and support.

In the year since our club was born, the mission statement has remained very much the same. We are determined to provide the West Leeds area with a progressive and inclusive sports club.

Our goal is to identify and develop the needs of the individual child, and to provide a holistic approach to the learning experience.

At the time of writing, we are more confident than ever of our ability to deliver on this mission. We are truly grateful for the support we have received, and the faith people have shown in us during this time. If this first year is anything to go by, we have many exciting and rewarding years to come.

Email us at jamie.grand@westleedsjuniors.club for more information on the club.




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