Chapeltown Juniors FC, which is part of Chapeltown Youth Development Centre, has been awarded £24,700 by Headingley’s Lodge of Dawn Freemasons to re-surface the club’s multi-use games area (MUGA) into an artificial-turf five-a-side football pitch.
The move will mean an end to junior teams, aged four to nine, having to grapple with water-logged pitches on the fields at its Prince Philip Centre base - which results in many matches and training sessions being called off, according to Jake Boyd, who runs the club’s foundation age teams.
“We’re so thankful, it’s a big relief. It’s going to help a lot of kids and add consistency as well - it’s good for the kids to be in routines.
“They have been playing on the grass pitches but it was always having to be cancelled because of mud or water-logging.
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“To make sure the pitches were going to be ok for games, we would have to cancel other sessions which stunted the kids development.”
Jake said being able to bring the MUGA pitch into play for football will mean the grassed pitches will be used less, keeping them in a better statate, and “we will never have to cancel a game again”.
The club has been the training ground for several players who have since turned pro, with star alumni including former Leeds United and now Hull City player Malik Wilks and Barnsley’s Clarke Oduor.
It is hoped that work will begin on the MUGA's transformation in the autumn - before the winter months arrive.
And the plan is also for the new-look flood-lit pitch to be made available for the local community to use on an evening.
Jake, who has volunteered at the club for the past five or six years, said: “It will be able to be used for local community leisure and recreation. Anyone will be able to book it out.”
He said he hopes the pitch will be a major asset for the community and for the club’s youngsters.
The club is “hugely” important in the local area, he said: “It keeps the kids from doing stuff we don’t want them to be doing and it actually engages them in something positive.
“The charity’s slogan is ‘Where kids come first’ and no matter what [else they have going on], as long as they are with us, it’s a safe place for them.”
A spokesman for The Lodge of Dawn said: "We are so delighted to be able to support CYDC, and particularly their football teams.
"Many of the members of the Lodge of Dawn are football supporters, and some play football regularly so this is a cause very close to our hearts.
"Freemasons are dedicated to making a positive contribution to society, and particularly in their local area, which this is as we are a North Leeds Freemasons lodge.
"The four guiding principles in Freemasonry are integrity, friendship, respect and charity, and we believe that the fantastic work that Luthel, Jake and the rest of the team at CYDC do, embodies that too.
"We can't wait to see the new MUGA once it's built and the joy it will bring to the kids".
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