• Woodwynd Wolves ACES run a No Knives Better Lives campaign which benefits youths in the local community.
• The Quality Mark award scheme benefits Woodwynd with the provision of new kits and added credibility to the club.
• Interviewees: Colin Young, Dale Young
Woodwynd Wolves ACES is no ordinary football club. A charitable, crime-fighting and sporting enterprise all rolled into one, the club has notched impressive victories both on and off the pitch.
In 2005, residents of Woodwynd in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, concerned about joblessness, low-level crime and anti-social behaviour in their community, came together to form Ayrshire Communities Education and Sport (ACES).
In 2009, the registered charity decided to form a football team for local young people, christening it Woodwynd Wolves. Assistance from North Ayrshire Council, Children In Need and The Robertson Trust enabled ACES to acquire and run the previously neglected Woodwynd Hall facility and revitalize an adjacent playing field where Wolves now train.
Woodwynd Wolves ACES Development Officer Colin Young has been an instrumental part of the project since the very beginning. Together with other local coaches, Young assembled an under-19 team to participate in the 2010 Canton Cup in Michigan, USA.
Once the side “became a wee bit too old”, as Young delicately puts it, the club decided to form “an amateur team for those kids, and some of those stayed, and then coached other kids. Other kids wanted to be involved, other kids wanted football teams. So that’s where Woodwynd Wolves came from.”
In helping budding coaches acquire new skills and qualifications and keeping young kids physically active but off the streets, the club is a worthy winner of the Scottish FA’s Quality Mark Award. He said: “I think it’s very important. It shows that we know what we’re talking about. We’re not just somebody off the street. We’ve got all our qualifications, we’ve got all our risk assessments, safety things in place, insurances, disclosures – everything that’s important to parent’s nowadays.”
The Scottish FA’s subsequent provision of kit has been an absolute godsend, says Young. “We got full sets of strips for the kids which saves us an absolute fortune. They’re good quality stuff, it’s all high brand, quality material. We get access to further training, and we get access to discounted courses as well which all helps introduce new coaches into it.”
The club is also heavily involved in the Scottish Government’s ‘No Knives, Better Lives’ campaign in partnership with Police Scotland via its football roadshows.
“We approached Police Scotland about three years ago with a notion of using road signs, buckets, tyres etc,” Colin said. “We were going to build a course, and then we were going to take that around schools. The Chief Inspector at the time decided that that would be a great vehicle for the ‘No Knives’ campaign, so he got in contact with them and we spoke to them. They were more than happy for us to carry that throughout the schools.”
The campaign has been a tremendous success, with a 57% fall in knife crime and a 21% reduction in violent crime being recorded in six former hotspots across North Ayrshire.
In a sign of how successfully the project has encouraged all generations to get involved and stay involved, Young’s son Dale, an alumnus of the inaugural Woodwynd Wolves, is also now involved in coaching youngsters coming up through the ranks behind him. In recognition of his sterling efforts, he has been nominated for a Scottish FA Grassroots Award.
Dale said: “I’ve coached quite a lot of boys in the past that have gone on to further levels as well, so I think maybe that’s got something to do with it.
“If I win this award it will mean a lot to me because of the amount of hard work I’ve put in over the past nine years. It would mean everything to me.”