Junior Players support Welling United in Local Derby and announce important developments for the Youth Section.

Saturday 3rd November sees an important local derby taking place at Park View Road, when Welling United play host to local rivals Bromley in The Blue Square South League.

At the ground to support the first team are a sizeable percentage of the 250 members of the Youth Section (Welling United Youth with Kingsmoor) proud to be wearing the Red strip of the senior squad.

Youth Section Secretary, Liz Upton, says ‘The Youth Section took the opportunity of showing their support of the main club today in what should be an exciting match.  I know many young players are encouraged by attending Park View Road and motivated by the opportunities our association with the main club creates.  We have already, in only our second season in partnership, seen a healthy flow of our older players representing the main club through the reserve side.  All the members here today have benefited from the free player pass issued to all junior members’.

Welling United Youth with Kingsmoor was born in May 2006 as a partnership, bringing together a local Senior Adult squad and a long-standing youth club, to promote football to all abilities in the local community.  This association has been a huge success, allowing our older-aged sides to compete in The Kent Youth League, which without an association with a senior squad, they would have been unable to do so.  These 3 squads are progressing tremendously well and have a great reputation amongst their fellow league sides.  We are providing exit routes for older players, either through progression into the adult squads, or by offering qualifications to members, refereeing or coaching, to encourage older members to give something back to their younger counterparts.

Liz says ‘an outstanding example of this initiative working must be Danny Hill.  Danny was proud to be a part of this club from an early age.  Now 19 and studying sports science at West Kent College, he has also gained a Level 2 FA coaching badge and referees’ qualifications and is here today along with our U16 side, which he is now proud to be coaching.  We have recently appointed Danny as The Qualification Development Officer, promoting opportunities within sport to our Club members’.

‘Another milestone to be celebrated today is our imminent application to The Football Association for Charter Standard Development Club status.  This award will recognise the dedication and high standards of our volunteers, judged against the stringent standards of The FA.  All our coaches have to be CRB checked and attend Child protection courses, ensuring quality of care.  We have no less than 3 UEFA B coaches, with the Youth Section sponsoring coaching qualifications for all managers of the 19 teams.  Accompanying this application will be a three year development plan, instigated by the management committee of the Youth section, which includes our commitment to develop our current teams, branch into female and disability football and support local schools offering coaching and advice.  The Community Officer for Welling United FC, an active member of the Youth Section, is already working with many local schools in both Bexley and Greenwich, as part of the Soccer School initiative.  Our development plan states one achievement is the goal to support at least one local school through their application for the FA Charter Standard Schools award.  We have the knowledge and capability to offer expertise freely’.

There is, however, a very real threat to the future of this progressive and developing organisation.  Liz continues ‘our current headquarters are, and have always been, in Greenwich at Swingate Lane Playing Fields, Camdale Road, Plumstead.  Going back to the mid 90s, Kingsmoor JFC were awarded a 30-year lease on the ground.  Unfortunately this lease was granted to the club under the authority of 2 trustees, who I understand made the decision to stop the teams then playing having access to the ground, which then stood empty for 2 years.  Following a very well publicised campaign, in 2001 the remaining members of the committee and club were awarded usage of the ground on an annual basis, having been effectively homeless for 2 seasons.  The facility has been shared with another Greenwich Club, Southmere JFC, since then.  I understand there have been legal issues between Greenwich Council and the original trustee for the last few years but perhaps naively, we understood the remainder of the lease would be transferred back to the current committee when this could be achieved, even if slight negotiations had to take place.  We were devastated, however, when in September the Youth Section were given notice to quit at the end of this season.  It seems the Council are keen to advertise the lease for tender, in a closed-bid scenario, which we will be applying for.  It remains, however, a very unsettling time for all the players with the possibility of these youngsters being ‘locked out’ of the ground for the second time as part of our club’.

‘We have requested Greenwich Council recognise the voluntary work we undertake and the fact, as we are Greenwich based and the main club Bexley based, the opportunities that are offered to all local residents.  Our current Head Quarters at Camdale Road is directly on the boundary of both boroughs and we acknowledge our actions can have a positive effect on all local residents.  I am proud to say we seem to have the support of the residents backing directly onto the pitches, as they have seen first hand the pride and care we take in the ground and the high standard of training and community based activity we offer.  Our members enjoy professional coaching in a healthy environment.  They are encouraged to be responsible citizens and we provide many activities, which prevent them from just hanging around on the street.  As a club, we are inviting the support of local residents and already have the support of the leagues in which our members compete.  A petition, offering community support to our application for the new lease, is available online here. I have suggested to our many members who do reside in the Greenwich Borough to discuss their concerns with their local councillors.’

‘It just seems such a travesty, that it is our youngsters that face the very real threat of not being able to play next season, through no fault of the current committee who are all die-hard volunteers.  Facilities are very hard to find, and the chances of Welling United Youth with Kingsmoor, surviving without a home ground to stage our plans for the future, are relatively slim.  Southmere will also have to source another venue, with their 50 players.’

Lets hope the youngsters here today, who represent 250 members and 19 teams, are still able to wear their shirt with such pride come next season.

For more information please contact Liz Upton, Club Secretary, 07956 115046