Back of the Net: Free football for Worksop youngsters hailed a success

A Worksop councillor and football coach have been working together to offer free football sessions to the children of Worksop - which has had an outstanding response from the community.

By Kirsty Hamilton
Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 5:08 pm

Councillor Maria Charlesworth has organised the free sessions with coach Paul Cavell and his team Julie Cavell, Brad Charlesworth, and Aaron Redfern, as a pilot scheme with hopes to expand.

The six weeks of sessions began on July 24, and since then the team have supplied two two-hour sessions over Saturdays and Sundays at St John’s School’s astroturf pitch, entertaining between 25-31 children, aged between seven and 10, per session.

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The sessions are for children aged seven to 10 years old.

In the two weeks since starting, the organisers have also supplied more than 200 children with free healthy snack lunches.

Coun Charlesworth said: “We could not have done this without the help and support of the Labour Worksop councillors and the chartered trustees, Tony Eaton, the local mayor, and district councillor Sybil Fielding, who have all donated to fund this project.

“Also, Julie Kidman at Tesco, and Victoria Brooks at Morrisons who have provided these kids with the healthy snacks.”

She said the outcome of the sessions has been “phenomenal”.

Mayor Tony Eaton pictured with Cllrs Sybil Fielding, Neil Sanders, Gwenyth Jones, and Maria Charlesworth.

“Kids can become withdrawn if they’re not getting out and about and that’s one of the main reasons we’re doing it, to lift kid’s spirits,” she added.

“Now the restrictions have been lifted it’s a case of socialising and getting them back into some sort of normal behaviour.”

Back of the Net has had great feedback from parents, with children looking forward to each session.

One parent, whose child has attended the sessions, said: “I cannot thank you all enough as a struggling single parent there is no way I can afford to pay for this. Thank you.”

Another parent texted Coun Charlesworth and said: “My son has been ready since 7am with his kit on. Thanks guys at Back of the Net, this is fantastic what you are doing.”

Paul Cavell, who has coached the likes of young professional England players Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker, describes the sessions as a hugely rewarding social activity for children to make friends.

He said: “This six-week period hasn’t been a coaching session - it’s not put any pressure on the children.

“If you put the idea that they’re going to be coached and they’re thinking they’re not at that ability, it puts children off.

“I’ve had parents say to me, the first time [their child] came, they weren’t sure about coming, because they weren’t sure they’d enjoy it, and now they can’t wait to come.

“It’s just opening the floor up for people who want to participate, but sometimes feel they don’t have that ability or that confidence.”

Paul, also a former player for Worksop Town FC, thanked everyone and every councillor for the assistance in setting up the sessions.

“Maria has been absolutely fantastic. As a councillor on the ward she’s been unbelievable. A lot of people don’t see what a councillor does in the background, but I’ve seen it first-hand in terms of organising the football, food, health and safety issues,” he said.

“It’s onwards to the Worksop trustees and all the other councillors involved. The support has been 100 per cent.”

The team are hoping to expand the sessions to Rhodesia and Manton in the next school holidays.