Blue Sky Supports The Clarendon Juniors
11 January 2024
11 January 2024
Clarendon Juniors are a community grassroots football club based in Winterslow, Wiltshire [although they play football across the surrounding areas]. We discovered them through their Chairman, Richard Pearce, who is also a foster carer with Blue Sky Fostering. He has been part of a team that has grown the club from 9 to 25 teams.
"From my perspective, the only way I could initially communicate with my placement 8 years ago was through football. Every night we would spend 30 - 45 mins: ball, wall, ball, kick, ball, wall, chat. At this stage, despite living in the village of Winterslow, we were unaware of the football club.
Since our young person became involved with the team 7 years ago, he has been recognised for the number of appearances and goals he has scored. Football is his thing! My role as club chair and foster carer means that although I am not a football coach, I can help provide the facilities and background support to enable the club to thrive and allow our young person to continue to have the opportunity to play football.”
Each parent pitches in with a fee which is invested straight back into the club. They also offer an inclusion fund aimed at young people/families who perhaps cannot afford to be part of a sports club.
11 January 2024
funded playing kit, boots, shin pads
arranged transport to get parents to and from games
paid membership and subs
fed players providing a snack before a game / training.
included players and parents in visits to Wembley and St Marys
"sponsored" young asylum seekers and included them within our teams.
Richard says “We had two Saturday mixed teams at each age group, Under 6 through to Under 14, plus our third girls only team scheduled to start in the next few months [U9-U10], so we were at capacity. However, we still had 15-20 young people in the under 10 age group who wanted to join a team. So, we started a Sunday team! Without the Blue Sky Sponsorship, we simply wouldn’t have been able to get this new team off the ground.”
Richard likes to think that the Clarendon Juniors echo the Blue Sky Core Values:
We are one family. We stand shoulder to shoulder
A problem shared is a problem solved
Treat others as you would want to be treated
We keep our promises
He explains that the Clarendon Juniors are an inclusive community family club – family comes first and they look after one another. The competition to join a football team is very high. The waiting lists are long, and it puts a lot of performance pressure on the young people who wish to play.
Richard adds, "Some of the young people were saying that they wanted to play but felt no one wanted them because they hadn’t played in a club before." Clarendon Juniors has been the solution to the problem, allowing everyone to participate by being fully inclusive. And what about the Blue Sky value to treat others as you would want to be treated, and keeping promises? "Well," says Richard, "that is an ethos that the team live by with each match."
The open inclusivity and acceptance are starting to bring results: The first game the team played they were, in Richard’s words “absolutely hammered” with the experienced opposing team winning with double figures [and some!]. But the Clarendon Juniors remained positive. They played the same opposing team a few months later and this time only lost 5:1 – a great improvement!
Even the League is now taking notice and has shown recognition to the Clarendon Juniors: 6 of their teams last season were awarded the most friendly and supportive teams in their respective divisions.
Richard concludes, ‘somewhere in our midst we may end up with a player who makes it through to play professional full-time football, but for most of our players it is about having fun with their mates. Yes, we want to be competitive, but if the players come off the pitch after an hour of fun with smiles on their faces, then we have won!
Are you a Blue Sky foster carer and have a project in your local community you feel passionate about supporting? If so, please get in touch with us to see if we can help.
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