A team of football-mad youngsters have been left watching on from the sidelines due to a lack of kit.
Eight aspiring under-7s players from Middleton Park Football Club, which is based at Middleton Leisure Centre in south Leeds, have yet to play a competitive game together despite the football season starting in late summer.
The community club, having failed in applications for funding from the Professional Footballer’s Association and the Galaxy Hot Chocolate Fund, has launched a Christmas appeal for sponsors to help the team finally kick off their season.
The young hopefuls have been having to step up and play odd games for teams in higher age groups to experience playing competitively up until now.
Wayne Dixon, 31, who cofounded the club in 2004, told the YEP: “If sponsors come forward it means we get more kids playing football.
“We’re all volunteers, who do this in our spare time, and all we want is to get all the kids in Middleton to play the sport.”
He said the club, which has 180 members this year, needs around £500 to pay for the full kit.
Middleton Park FC comprises of eight teams ranging from a full men’s side down to the kit-less under-7s team, which only started up this year to compete in five-a-side games, as well as running sessions for toddlers from 18 months.
Mr Dixon said: “We struggle for sponsors as a club but hopefully we can get some support so these kids can get playing together sooner rather than later.”
Middleton Park ward councillors Paul Truswell, Kim Groves and Judith Blake have offered a joint statement in support of the club.
It read: “Sport plays a vital role in our local communities, it gives young people a healthy and positive activity that helps them to develop their confidence and recognise the value of teamwork.
“Wayne and the club’s volunteers put in a huge amount of time to provide coaching, training and matches to a range of age groups.”
Nearing January’s 10-year anniversary since Middleton Park FC was set up, the club has expanded every year.
The ward councillors’s statement read: “We want to help them to get even more parents and their children involved at an early age – this is a vital part of helping the club to grow.
“Money is obviously in ever shorter supply, and sponsorship is an increasingly important part of the income of many clubs.”
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