The Community Football Leagues for young people are back for 2011 and are more popular than ever.
More than 350 young people have been taking part in the five-a-side leagues each Friday evening since January, and that’s doesn’t include the host of young spectators who turn up to see a good game of football each week.
The leagues are run by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust’s Sport Development Unit at Robin Park Arena and Leigh Sports Village each week, but players come from all corners of the borough from Orrell and Tyldesley to Hindley and Ashton.
Community Sports Development manager Chris Essex-Crosby said: “This is the biggest ever year for the leagues.
“There is now a huge number of young people who come along to the venues to engage in positive activities ever single Friday.
“The project has been a real team effort from a lot of different partners from the beginning, but we should also remember the young people who have had the commitment to turn up every week and show a good team spirit between them.”
The leagues were set up to provide positive activities for young people on Friday evenings and to combat antisocial behaviour.
Now in its fourth year, the games are attracting some special guests with Commonwealth Gold boxer Courtney Fry coming along to support and mentor the young people this season.
Action from the Community Football League.
Courtney’s visits are part of a Sporting Champions mentoring programme set up by Sport England to use world class athletes to inspire young people about sport.
He said: “I have been doing sports mentoring since I qualified for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. For me it is about giving something back and helping other young people to be passionate about sport.
“I have found the young people in Wigan and Leigh are extremely friendly, fit and love their sports. “The young people are so chilled out and welcoming. There are really good kids here in Wigan Borough and there is a lot of talent that should be harnessed.”
The leagues are supported by a host of different agencies including Wigan Council’s Youth Service, the fire service, Wigan Athletic and Wigan Warriors and the Lancashire Football Association.
Wigan Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture, Cllr Brian Baldwin, said: “Few things bring young people together like a really good game of football and it’s great to see that the community leagues are back and are as popular as ever.
“Activities such as this not only keep young people occupied but they keep them active, fit, healthy and make them appreciate the value of competitive sport. In Wigan Borough we’re positive about young people and passionate about sport. What a winning combination!”
For more information on the Community Football Leagues to to Community Football (external link) or call WLCT's Sports Development Unit on 01942 404982.