THE FUTURE of a popular football club which benefits hundreds of youngsters has been secured by a national grant.
Chairman Peter Manion said a sum of £2,000 from the Football Foundation towards pitch maintenance had made a ‘massive difference’ to Welland Junior FC which has just marked its 25th year anniversary.
The club plays all over Malvern but in recent years its two main homes in Upton and Welland have been blighted by the consequences of torrential rainfall.
The pitches at Upton located on a flood plain often found themselves under water for more than three months and rendered totally unusable, while club members regularly had the pitch forks out in vain at Spitalfield on Marlbank Road which has suffered from water-logging.
As a result one of the Upton teams folded, while the club has had to use valuable funds to hire out other facilities throughout the district to make sure its teams still had places to play and train. Yet despite those efforts Peter said the temporary arrangements caused about ten per cent of Welland’s membership to leave.
But this summer £4,500 has been spent on treatment works at Spitalfield, including spreading 60 tons of sand over the surface and using machinery which sends shock waves into the ground to improve the drainage.
The work has had an immediate impact and now the pitch stands up to seven hours of football most weekends.
Now Spitalfield sees about 100 children enjoying non-competitive football on a Saturday morning trained by qualified coaches, before youth boys or girls teams followed by the mens team take to the field later the same day. Then on Sundays the ladies team and under 16’s have their matches.
The club has also been able to pay for the Upton teams to move to all-weather 3G pitches at Dyson Perrins. Most of the players who left because of the problems in the past have now returned.
Peter said: “The work done at Spitalfield and the gradual move to Astroturf has secured the club’s future in a climate which is just becoming more and more wet.
“We can only thank the Football Foundation emphatically, they have really supported us and still do.
“The community, Welland Parish Council and councils in Upton have been great to us but playing there has been a real challenge. Spitalfield was waterlogged but it is in great nick now.”
The club started in October 1989 on the opposite side of Marlbank Road with just 22 kids. Today it has a membership of more than 300 children.
Peter added: “Running Welland Junior FC is like running a small business. It has been a rough ride at times but we are in a much better position now. What we do is very, very popular.”