FF 75 – Staplegrove Youth Football Club

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Staplegrove Youth Football Club

Staplegrove Youth FC does a fantastic job of supplying young players from their local community with an opportunity to play the game in a safe and enjoyable environment whilst helping them to reach their full potential. Football Focus Magazine recently caught up with their Chairman Scott Wigley to find out more.  

Involvement 

He told us, “I am a 40 something parent of two boys, and I first became involved with Staplegrove Youth Football Club as a parent ‘volunteer’ (both my sons play for the club, eldest Tom in the U15s and Jake in the U13s). 

I offered to help the U7s age group coach run the sessions and before I knew what had happened I had been recruited to coach Jake’s U8s team, and haven’t looked back … I took over the chairmanship of the club two years ago and recently started helping out coaching Tom’s team. In my spare time I work as an engineer at a local power station!” 

The Role 

“As a coach the most challenging aspect is finding ways to make training sessions enjoyable for 28 or so boisterous U13s, especially on cold and wet Thursday nights in mid-winter along with dealing with all the rules and regulations required to avoid the club receiving a petty fine from the FA; people sometimes forget that we are all volunteers at the end of the day. 

As chairman of the club the most challenging role is succession planning for key volunteers and planning for the future. The most rewarding aspects are seeing the smiles on the player’s faces – a very uplifting experience knowing you are making a difference.”  

Atmosphere 

“We are going through a period of transition with our secretary stepping down from the role after a 15 year association with the club (large shoes to fill!). We have also had to deal with moving our U9s and U10s to a new venue over the pre-season which hasn’t been too popular with some parents (I think they are missing some of the home comforts we offer at Staplegrove, namely bacon roles and cups of tea). Otherwise, the mood is positive; we have a good group of coaches supported by admin teams and a strong membership.”    

2017/18 

“The start to this season has been disrupted by the move over to the Whole Game System and its refusal to talk to the Full-Time system. This has meant that the start for our older teams was delayed and we have been receiving fixtures a week at a time. I’m glad to report that normal service is now just about resumed.   

My priority as Chairman is to find a new secretary for the club. We are also looking to give our changing facilities a face lift. My plan as a coach is to keep our U13 teams playing, giving all the players a chance and enough game time each week, encouragement, keeping it fun, and perhaps introducing the odd new skill.” 

Approach 

“I would like to think that we are an inclusive club, successful without needing to have a ‘win at all cost’ mentality. Our club’s philosophy has also been to encourage and promote the development of mini and youth football through offering a safe and enjoyable learning environment. We also endeavour to provide the best playing amenities and equipment. We look to develop every young person in terms of their self-discipline, confidence, behaviour and social skills. 

Recently we have been supported by Somerset FA through the grass root coaches mentoring programme to help improve the knowledge, confidence and performance of coaches and volunteers within the club. Ultimately, by providing better coaching we develop better players.”    

Integration 

“We have a good relationship with the Staplegrove senior club with a number of our players having transitioned into their playing ranks over the years and a couple of the senior players coming back to youth football to coach their sons/daughters. However, there is a gap in the ‘pathway’ between U16 and U18 football and we need to do more work if we want to fill it.”  

Community 

“Whilst we are a Chartered Standard Club, based on the FA’s criteria we cannot be classed as a Community Club as we only offer mixed teams covering mini-soccer and youth football. However we do provide quality, safe opportunities for young people of all ages in our community and recognise the need to work to ensure our youth players have a realistic pathway to continue playing football at senior level.”  

Challenges 

“Our biggest challenges are finding and keeping sufficient volunteers to match our growth and securing good quality pitches and winter training facilities in the local area – as we continue to expand as a club, we have outgrown our own facilities; we currently have our U8s training and playing matches on the local senior club pitch, our U9s and U10s training and playing on pitches at a primary school on the other side of town (10 minutes drive), whilst our Mini’s and U7s train at our dedicated playing fields along with the older age groups U11s-U15s.”  

Ambitions 

“We currently enter 18 teams in the local leagues. We want to keep growing and to offer organised football from U8s through to U16s with an aim of participating in the local U18s youth league. We would also like to encourage more girls to take up football and possibly establish an all girls team.” 

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