Leeds United fanzine The Square Ball to sponsor community club Holbeck Moor FC
In June, award-winning theatre company Slung Low - who also work closely with the fanzine and the Leeds United Supporters Trust on various charity projects - launched a subs-free football club in South Leeds, aiming to give the opportunity of organised physical activity to local adults.
Holbeck Moor is a large part of the matchday walk from the city centre to Elland Road for Whites supporters, though the local pitches failed to boast a regular team until the summer.
Now, around fifty to eighty players have met up for training each week thanks to the new initiative to create and provide a supportive environment for men and women of all abilities to enjoy football.
Holbeck have made an impressive start to life as a club, entering a number of friendly tournaments - even winning two - and are set to join several leagues over the coming months.
The Square Ball have now linked up with the local club, which will see the fanzine's logo adorn the Holbeck Moor FC kit.
Slung Low community producer and Holbeck Moor FC co-chair Ruth Saxton said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with such a trusted and well-respected brand as The Square Ball, whose values of supporting their community align with Slung Low’s.
“As part of a city-wide project, TSB printed and distributed 5,000 of their colouring books free to various charities and community projects to help families through lockdown, and Slung Low feel flattered to have been included within those support groups.
“TSB supported our food bank with both money and regular volunteering, and generously donated artwork to make The Holbeck bar look fitting for any Leeds United fan visiting for pre-game drinks. Holbeck Moor FC will wear their logo with pride.”
The club's kit is made by Italian brand Rage and in order to qualify teams are required to prove they're anti-fascist.
Holbeck Moor is the site of The Battle of Holbeck Moor, when citizens of Leeds drove antisemitic fascists out of the city in 1936. Everyone is welcome at the club, as reflected in the team motto: All Here Or Nowhere.
“I have played football since I was a child and know what it can do for improving mental health and fitness,” says Ewan Speck, co-coach of Holbeck Moor FC’s men’s team.
“I wanted to be part of creating a space where everyone feels safe and fully part of the team — that’s why I chose a husky logo. I know Slung Low’s ethos of never saying no to anybody, so I approached them with the idea of an inclusive football club for men and women.”
Alan Lane, Artistic Director at Slung Low, and Holbeck Moor Co-Chair said: "We know fewer than one in ten Holbeck residents access the local leisure services. And yet the mortality rate, linked to coronary heart disease, diabetes, obesity and COPD, is higher in this area than the Leeds average.
"So as we wound-up our food bank, this was a natural progression of our commitment to the health outcomes of the community we serve.”
Abi, a player from the women’s team, added: “I often find it hard to meet new people due to my mental health. I have found the team of ladies friendly and kind to each other.
"Every Wednesday I look forward to playing football and just having that free time and having a laugh."
With training times set to change for winter, anybody interested in joining Holbeck Moor FC can email [email protected]