St Just Youth Football Club
St Just Youth FC is a fantastic example of a club providing young players with a chance to play the game in a safe and enjoyable environment whilst helping them to reach their full potential. Sport in Profile Magazine recently caught up with Club Representative Mark Strick to find out more.
He told us, “I have been involved in the Club since its formation about six years ago (as founder with my partner). I had always played my football at St Just FC throughout my life so it was always going to be the location for the Youth Football Club. The thing that attracted me to the Club was the fact that it has been the main basis for all my football progression.”
“The most challenging aspects of my role I would say would be dealing with lots of different challenges that come with a (smaller) Club. For example we have three age groups with one pitch which is also used by two senior teams so you can imagine the dilemmas we have come the wetter months when the pitches start cutting up!
“The most rewarding aspects would definitely be seeing the children develop as players and as people, sometimes when they play fantastic football and produce quality moments you do think to yourself that it’s all been worth it. Also to see some of the players develop more confidence from a social aspect is very rewarding.
“The general mood at the Club is always a positive, good one! We have been adding new coaches this year and all our teams are doing really well, with the addition of the mini (U8s) this year the mood is great!
“The beginning of the season has started very well with our U13s top of their league and with a very healthy squad of thirteen players and the U12s also around mid-table with a very positive squad of fourteen local children boasting lots of talent. The U8s are already making fantastic progress since their formation with a very promising group in the making!
“Our plans for the rest of the campaigns are to continue to develop all the players and their teams further so there is continued improvement and progress throughout the Club on and off the field of play.
“Our approach to youth development is quite simple really; we have never been a win at all costs Club, it has always been about developing the players as footballers and as individuals for later life. I see too many times teams boasting about ‘smashing’ other teams and also look at what we won etc. etc. Our approach is one where they can learn the game and how to respect other win, lose or draw not losing the main sight of why we choose to play this fantastic game.
“Currently we have not got to the transition stage yet within our Club but it is fast approaching. We will have a full support network in place at the time of transition and will continue to work with the players and monitor their progress as they step into adult football and will always offer advice as they progress as adults and as players.
“Ours is 100% a community Club, it was originally formed so that my children could learn the game with their school friends! We took them to a nearby session and really were disappointed with the whole setup; it was basically a mass of children without any real focus on the players or progression as people, and my boys hated it. Thus what to do, then Lois (my partner had the bright idea that we could form our own Club!)
So St Just Youth Football Club was formed in 2011; we are a very tight nit group of dedicated Volunteers who work closely with all the parents as well as the children. It really is more of a family than a football Club, with grandparents serving food for the players after the games and lots of parents also giving up valuable time to make it all possible.
“We have had invaluable help along the way from our dedicated sponsors who are also local based people. Upon our formation we had the generous offer of help from Chris Sedgeman, founder and owner of Chris Sedgeman Scaffolding based in Penzance, Cornwall. He has supplied the whole Club with essential Kit wear on a number of occasions without any hesitation. Chris has also just donated a defibrillator for our Club as well as he felt it was something we should have without question.
“As a St Just man himself it is another factor and link to the St Just community; we have also had major sponsorship from Archie Browns Health Foods and Cafe, Westcountry Blinds, Trevaylor Campsite, Leyton Robinson Reed Accountants, Howdens Joinery, also based in Penzance, they have also provided team kits and essential equipment when we have needed it, with many of these living in the community.
“In the next five years the biggest challenge is definitely the Club’s status and survival as a football Club. With ever changing challenges arising and with limited numbers of players in a small localised area it is always a struggle, along with the financial strains faced by businesses’ it’s not always easy for them to continue to help giving financial support. The need for another pitch is ever-growing and is one we are trying to address so we can continue to add more age groups and maybe girls teams etc.
“The Club’s ambitions in the next five years are to carry on doing exactly what we have been but on a bigger scale! We want to keep adding new teams and new volunteers every year to continue the growth of the Club while keeping our Club ethos of no pressure based learning and also to keep trying to keep close relations with our sponsors and schools who are absolutely pivotal to our Clubs survival.”