A FOOTBALL club that for over 30 years has been teaching local children about much more than sport has won royal recognition for its “outstanding work” in the community.
Mossley Juniors was one of four Tameside organisations to have recently been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
More than 30 volunteers at the club devote their time each week to helping youngsters aged from seven to 17 get involved in grassroots football.
The committed crew, mainly parents whose sons or daughters play for the club but also some former players who have been with the club since they themselves were juniors, also hope to give the children valuable life skills for the future.
Club Secretary Kevin Hartley, who coaches the U16 team, explained: “I love the club and while football is the glue that keeps the children together, we are trying to really teach life skills: working as a team, learning, having fun, and building memories.
“When these kids are older, they won’t remember the individual games they won, lost of drew, but the friendships made and the activities they did.”
Kevin credits the long enduring success of the club to its volunteers.
He said: “The club has gone from strength to strength thanks to the input from the volunteers. Voluntary groups are really struggling these days as getting people to volunteer is so hard with all the rules and regulations, safeguarding and of course the seen and unseen time that a volunteer donates.
“However working for the benefit of children is so rewarding and to see what journey the children take in life, on and off the football pitch is amazing. It’s an honour and privilege to be part of their journey.
“The award is amazing and testament to the hard work and loyalty of all the volunteers, parents and children who have been part of our Mossley Juniors community over the past 30 years.”
The other Tameside organisation to receive the award are: Willow Wood Hospice, Droylsden Youth Centre and Ryecroft Hall Community Association. They are all being highlighted as part of the Council’s Proud Tameside campaign, which recognises people, places and services that make a positive difference to the borough and local lives.