Meet some of the mini-kickers: Charlie Baxter is third from the right.
In line with its family values, and an understanding of the importance of team sport, Bishopsgate sponsors grass-roots junior football…
Peter Baxter writes: I’ve been working at Bishopsgate, based at its Warrington depot, for just over two years. I’m a family man and came to Bishopsgate following redundancy from my previous job of 17 years as a drayman for Carlsberg. I was seeking a new challenge. I wanted to use my skills as a keen DIY enthusiast, as well as my love of driving. I’m doing both at Bishopsgate and have enjoyed my time here to date.
My wife Claire and I were trying to get our two boys, Riley, 6, and Charlie, aged 4, involved in team sport. We both recognise the benefits of being part of a team, and our boys need to burn energy and have fun as well as gain from the social and character-building aspects of team sport.
We went to an Open Day at our local football club, Cadishead Town Juniors, and instantly had a good feeling. We were welcomed by founding chairman Jim Cussons. He calls the club his “family” and we felt it lived up to that description – many parents and coaches were involved in creating a truly welcoming family environment.
I discovered Jim had coached for another local club previously but became unhappy with its ethos – it was too worried about winning trophies, and had “forgotten that junior grass-roots football is all about the kids having fun”.
So Jim quit, and took on the massive challenge of starting up his own club. In 2017 he established Cadishead Town JFC with an under-13s’ team. Later came the under-12s, and today the club also boasts an under-10s, an under-8s and the junior academy for the under-6s or, as we like to call it, “mini-kickers”.
Claire and I are totally sold: we signed up Riley to the new under 8s’ team, and Charlie joined the mini-kickers, ensuring he didn’t miss out. Unfortunately, we haven’t won a single match yet, but the kids always go home with massive smiles on their faces.
The success of this new club is testament to everyone involved. They work tirelessly alongside Jim to ensure its ongoing success in bringing the fun of football to as many children as possible.
I wanted to get more involved with the club and am going through the process of becoming under-8s’ assistant manager. I’ve been taking the first of several courses – The FA Safeguarding for Committee members course – and have learned my role is not just to try and teach the children football skills, but to be aware of changes in their behaviour, attitude etc. which might be the result of bullying or abuse in school, by friends/peers and also at home, and how to deal with that.
Aware that Cadishead is always looking for funding and sponsorship, I contacted Tim Bloch, MD of Bishopsgate. I’ve met Tim during driver meetings when he updates us on the business, and I’m pleased to say he’s keen to help – so a big thank you to him. Tim is a great believer in sport and is always especially keen to support juniors. He said: “I always encourage anyone who will listen to get involved in sport, whether on an individual or team basis.”
Tim shared the story of his school rugby team back in the 1970s. After losing every game except one in the under-12s and under-13s, they persevered and went on to become very successful at under-16 level, as well as into the sixth form at 1st and 2nd XV level.
Tim said: “I learnt a lot about winning and losing, but, more importantly, about building a strong team. I’ve always applied this team ethic to everything I’ve done since – in sport as well as business. My rugby team never gave up and so became a super-strong unit and, of course, had lots of fun.”
Cadishead Town JFC plays in the Football Association’s Salford and District football leagues. Home games are played across two pitches on a local school field and another pitch at a local park.
I asked my sons what they liked about being involved with the club. Riley said: “…”meeting new friends, playing football matches and having fun”. Charlie’s favourite is “putting my football kit on”.
We started with just five kids and now have about 50, with more joining all the time. We are starting Wildcats – aimed at girls aged 5-11yrs keen to try team sports. We achieved FA Charter Standard after only 16 months.
I have been talking to another club about organising a summer mini-league for U13s with three or four teams, or we might look at a tournament for the younger ones, perhaps the U8s, as they don’t get to play cup finals very often.
Bishopsgate’s continued support and sponsorship means we can we provide the necessary equipment needed to train the children, and helps with day to day running costs. It gives the Club a professional feel. I am currently sourcing some waterproof tops which will carry the Bishopsgate logo. Easing the financial strain means the staff have more time to concentrate on performance, training and matches. Without sponsors, there would be no clubs.