Sleights Football Club has scored a success for the village after re-emerging around ten years ago to put the community back on North Yorkshire’s soccer landscape.
The club existed previously but had been wound up and could have been consigned to history, had it not been for a group of determined villagers who decided to breathe new life into the club.
Today the club has under-11s and under-12s teams as well as a seniors squad, with around 50 players in total. Those numbers are expected to grow with the prospect of an under-13s team developing to take on players who outgrow the younger team.
However, the club is not only about formal competition and has become established as part of the village community.
It is hoped later this year it will host a gala – a planned event last year was lost to the pandemic – which should not only raise funds for the club, but which will also act as a focal point for villagers.
Club welfare officer Mark Jackson said: “We are trying to make a real event of it, it is about trying to build a community presence and make the club an important feature of the village.”
They are also planning to introduce less formal Sunday fun sessions to allow children who have been isolated by lockdowns and social distancing over the last year.
The club operates from the recreation field at Lowdale Lane, which is in the stewardship of trustees, and has just been awarded a £1,400 grant from the Football Foundation to help with its development.
That money will help to cover the costs of buying high-quality new goalposts for youth matches, which are smaller than standard items.
The club’s presence at the ground is keeping it in use for formal sports, following the demise of the village cricket club, which shared the site before it stopped operating several years ago.
Mark said the current football club had been formed by “a bunch of mates” who worked hard to bring it to life.
“We are all volunteers and we give it more time than we should,” he said. “I did it for the kids and none of us begrudge the time we spend on it.”