Thirsk Falcons FC is an integral part of sporting life in Thirsk as they continue to engage boys and girls at an early age into a structured, disciplined, sporting environment, nurturing their talents and providing a focus for their energy.
They offer the opportunity for young players to progress into senior football and are building a reputation as the ‘go to’ club for high quality football. Football Focus Magazine recently caught up with Club Representative Debbie Ingoldsby to find out more about the work they’ve been doing lately.
She told us, “There is a lot of excitement and anticipation for the future and a real buzz about football in Thirsk. We have over twenty teams now playing at a high level across the Teesside and Harrogate Leagues, new initiatives going forward and an increase in enquiries to join the club.
Keeping that momentum going as well as managing teams and their expectations is pretty demanding. As our chairman Wayne Sowden would say, “seeing a team get to a cup final, watching the comradery and friendship flourish amongst the players, training being put into practice on match day and brainstorming with like-minded individuals on the future of the club and bringing that to fruition is what makes it all worthwhile!”
“Thirsk Falcons FC now offers football training and match play right across the age groups from three years old to our veterans team! The junior and senior sections have joined forces and restructured as one club – Thirsk Falcons FC. We are now the largest sports clubs in the area and remain a popular leisure choice for boys, girls and adults to get involved in regular outdoor sporting activity.
The club offers a fledglings section for 3-6 years offering our youngsters a fun introduction to football using engaging skills and activities relevant for that age.
Weekly match play and training is offered from U7 age groups through to U16s who then can easily transition into our senior reserves and then onto 1st team senior football. For our over 35’s who don’t want to hang up their boots just yet we have a Veterans Sunday league team playing matches in and around the region.”
“Our teams have previously enjoyed great success in the leagues and tournaments that we take part in across Teesside, Harrogate, York, Hambleton and Richmond areas. Thirsk Falcons Seniors First Team won the Intermediate Cup Final earlier this year and are currently flying high in the Premier League, undefeated and showing their intent as serious contenders for the league title.
Our Senior Reserves team provides the perfect opportunity for our youth players to transition into senior football and receive support and training to continue the next phase of their footballing journey. They are currently doing well and sitting comfortably in the top four of League Division 1. The team is really starting to gel and showing great potential.
Ten of our junior teams, who play in the TJFA – one of the largest junior football leagues in Europe, are still battling it out in the league and challenge cups and about to progress into the quarter finals.”
“The club has seen rapid growth in the junior section and is committed to providing high quality football in a community context. We continue to look for ways to improve and expand. Many of our players have gone on to play for professional club academies and others represent North Yorkshire Schools, more still represent Hambleton and Richmond Schools Area teams.
We want our players to be the best they can be whilst encouraging football for all. Developing our younger players and helping them make the transition through to senior football is a key priority. Developing a girls football team and a Womens team is also high on the agenda plus relaunching our disability sessions with the Dales School.”
“The club is high profile in Thirsk; well-known and respected; it helps to forge strong friendships with players from a wide range of schools as well as supporting strong community cohesion with the involvement of hundreds of parents who continue their support often for many years. No matter who you talk to in Thirsk they will have had some connection with the club – we’ve been around a while! The seniors were established in 1948 and the juniors followed in 1985!
In addition, we are proud that Thirsk Falcons is an international partner with Celtic FC whose international coaches run Celtic football camps in Thirsk on a regular basis and provide the opportunity for our coaches to attend their annual international coaches conference.
We also partner with North Yorkshire Soccer Academy to deliver our fledglings group – fun football sessions for 3-6 years and last year launched a satellite club for people with disabilities in partnership with North Yorkshire Sport and Dales School.”
“For our younger section being part of the club and their respective teams instils a sense of pride. Education is not just about exams; it is well documented that sporting activity can play a huge part in building confidence, increasing self-esteem and teaching life skills for the future. We work closely with the schools in the area to achieve this through our Community Development Officer Dave Whitfield.”
“Following a successful launch of our new girls only football training sessions, new coach Gemma Calvert will continue to develop Saturday morning girls only training sessions. Available to all ages 6 years upwards our aim is to develop girls football in the town and create girls teams across the ages as well as a women’s team.
Girls football in Thirsk was launched as part of the FA’s Girls Football Week in partnership with North Yorkshire Soccer Academy and we’ve had a great response with over 20 girls attending the first two sessions. We even had Savanna Robson from Middlesbrough Women FC come along and train with the girls and talk to them about her footballing journey and what they could aspire to if they work hard.
We’re looking forward to developing the girls only football and firmly establishing girls football for all in Thirsk.”
“We actively encourage parents and carers to support the club providing the opportunity for adults to train as refs/coaches/match days helpers. This provides children with great role models. As with maintaining any sports team or community group, the club relies on the passion and enthusiasm of volunteers who have their own demanding day jobs, families and lives to live!
We also have to address the shortage of referees which remains a constant challenge for the juniors. Young people aged 14 or over can referee which is a great opportunity to engage all U14’s upwards, provide them with recognised training and pay them to referee junior matches. We wish to link more closely with Thirsk School to provide a pathway for new young referees through Junior Sports Leaders, D of E etc. We have recently trained three new referees from our U16/17 team and they are doing a fantastic job!”
“We have over 20 junior teams with approximately 225 players registered and 3 seniors team and a growing club! The challenge is finding space to play/train, funding and volunteer support!
We have an army of local business sponsors which make a huge contribution to the club, we are immensely grateful to them, without whose support we wouldn’t be able to function, provide the quality match kit or offer one of the lowest annual subs in the region.
We are working towards our vision of a home for Falcons, which includes enough playable pitches along with a grandstand and clubhouse.
The FA and the Council are very supportive but with land in Thirsk at a premium and the increasing demand for all sports not just football it is not an easy process but we will get there!”
“The vision is to bring semi-proessional football to Thirsk and to run one club that encompasses the breadth of junior football from Fledglings to U18’s with a clear pathway to a strong senior section playing high quality football. We want the club’s vision to be something that the whole town can get behind!
Part of our vision is to achieve a minimum of L6 status; playing National League North at a senior level with its own attendant facilities. Alongside Thirsk Falcons having its own facilities, the club is a key partner in the town’s Sowerby Gateway development and plans to fully utilise the facilities available for both junior and senior training.
We have a forward thinking strategy and clear ambitions and have already put in place a stronger committee to broaden involvement, widen the volunteer base and strengthen our skills base.
It’s by no means an easy task! We are definitely in it for the long haul and see this as a long term strategy but with the support of the community, businesses, local politicians, sports partnerships, NRFA etc. we will take Thirsk Falcons forward to benefit the next generation – increasing numbers of young people leading and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, increasing participation in sporting activity leading to better concentration in academic areas and contributing to our community as well as the promotion of football excellence, developing talent and raising aspirations to take football to the next level.”