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Local kids reap rewards of Westercommon Star's 'free football for all'

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Football is a sport loved by children and grown-ups alike all across the country, and it is so unfortunate that due to the expense of kit, equipment and coaching fees, not all youngsters have the opportunity to be part of a club. However Possilpark-based club, Westercommon Star, aim to provide all children with the chance to play football. Club chairman, Brian Land, spoke exclusively to YFS to share the history of the club, and their aims for the future.
Reflecting on how the club was started, Land said, “Westercommon Star has been running on and off in the Possilpark area for over twenty years now. The club was started by local people who cared about the community and the development of young people in the sport of football. Their aim was to give the young people the chance to develop their football skills and abilities, which also enables the young people to work in a team and become confident individuals growing up in an area which has multi-deprivation.”
Several managers have been involved with the club over the years, and Land says each of them have made their mark at the club and enhanced the lives of many individuals within the community. He said, “Our present management team from 2009 are Paul King and Tony Cross, and these guys run the very successful Westercommon Star Amateurs. Tony Cross and Conor Mitchell manage the 2003 team while Paul King and Mark Murray run the 2007’s. It is more of an academy now than just a team as the committee and coaches have worked together since forming the present Star structure to create a team which has impacted the development of Scottish football at various age groups and won leagues and cups to be proud of. Our committee meet monthly and decide on all club issues working with the managers and the parents to ensure all feel included while taking the club forward.”
Land explained how it is important to the club that all children have the opportunity to develop their football skills without money becoming a barrier. He said, “Living in an area of multi-deprivation and seeing some clubs charge up to £50 for monthly fees for kids had led us to mould our club’s structure and provide free coaching for kids. We have vigorously fundraised and rallied various businesses to support our goals in keeping all kids’ coaching free.”
The club have a number of fundraisers each year and a lotto which brings income in, with all of the funds going straight to the kids’ development. The committee also apply for grants, which Land says help to support the club. He said, “The support from Queens Cross Housing via free hall space for our 5’s plus assists us to provide vital coaching for the 2008/09/10’s age groups, who are at a prime stage for learning and becoming our future stars for the club.”
However Land says the best support comes from the coaches, who volunteer their time every week. He said, “We could not survive without the support from our Scottish FA qualified coaches. Some are parents of our players, and some are just gold dust. They continually and selflessly provide coaching to our kids and through this, they put their time and effort into providing over 100 young people and adults with quality football coaching, free of any charges week in and week out. Without this amazing and immense support, we would not be able to operate the quality program we have on offer at Westercommon Star.”
Westercommon Star’s short-term aims are simply to continue what they are already doing. Land said, “We want to continue with the free coaching for the kids, enhance the skills ability, health and well-being of all our players in the club. We also want to continue with coaching development via SFA qualification structure and encourage all our players to continue in their personal development through positive coaching at the club.”
However in the long-term, the club would like to improve the coaching that they now offer by furthering the coaching qualifications that they have now, acquiring more funds and improving the facilities that are currently available. Land said, “We would like to set up partnerships with local organisations and businesses to secure quality facilities local to our club which will be used to develop our academy and to provide quality facilities for the community which will enable access and encourage development at all levels of the sport.” He added, “We also want to increase our coaching qualifications and the number of coaches at the club. We would like to run a ‘Fun 4’s’ league but at present, we do not have enough coaches to do this. Furthermore, we want to ensure funding is in place via sponsors and fundraising to continue the free football that we currently offer.”
It is fantastic to hear about the efforts that so many parents and coaches are going to in Possilpark to provide the facilities and opportunities for children to develop their skills in football, and YFS wish everyone at Westercommon Star all the best for this season and the future. 

Claire Gulline | YFS Aberdeen Senior Reporter
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