1. EVERYTHING STARTS FROM NOTHING…
Like many things in life, Castle Juniors started from the bottom. Commencing back in 2005 with just a ball and a couple of jumpers for goalposts in a corner of Ward Park, it was initially just a measure to get some fresh air and have a bit of fun while keeping fit. Adults would take their children for a kickabout and some enjoyment.
Now, the club has 500 players across all different age groups, genders and walks of life, countless IFA-trained coaches and volunteers and partnerships with sizeable institutions, growing over the years to become a beacon of the local community while still sticking to the values unto which the club has been based from the start. This group, led by club chairman Trevor Reid, has achieved a lot in a relatively short space of time ever since.
The growth has brought challenges, especially when said growth is unplanned, as well as a need to adapt to a business model that can keep sustainable while still serving the community. The appointing of such figures as treasurers and administrators was not anticipated in the beginning, yet the assistance of the local community and the willingness of parents and volunteers united in their love of the game proved pivotal to making this possible. The support of the Irish FA as a key port of call has also advanced the side especially in such respects as coaching and competition.
Furthermore, when Castle Juniors entered tournaments, they usually ended in defeats against far more established sides, but thanks to this invaluable support, the club can compete. Making use of a variety of different formats, including five-a-side to eleven-a-side games in league and tournament styles, the club has managed to make a mark in several settings, giving the players the satisfaction of that winning feeling and the freedom of being out on the pitch.
Every pound that is paid on entry is invested back into the club, helping to advance the various sectors including the ladies and disability components, while also making the players feel like part of a family and helping them realise the role they play in the community. This means better equipment, better coaching standards and better players, a win-win for all associated as the club evolves and caters to ever-wider groups of people.
It is a guarantee with this team that they always put the person first. The entire ethos of the club is to develop the personality as well as the footballer, and all players and volunteers know that when they first make the step into this team, they can progress in their field and apply the skills they learn here into real-life situations. With the available resources and partnerships improving over time, the team is able to do this to ever-higher levels, bringing them access to recognised and respected courses that boost their career development as well as working on human aspects like social skills and problem solving.
Castle Juniors much appreciates the collaboration from all angles to make it a safe and supportive environment for every individual, making sure to the highest degree that this is a place where their physical and emotional wellbeing can be worked on and optimised. Their commitment to the badge on the front will be realised and rewarded, something the club always takes a lot of pride in ensuring.
By Lewis Bennett