A SUFFOLK football club has raised £13,000 to purchase game frames for young players.
Coplestonians FC, who run fortnightly frame football sessions at Copleston Sports Centre, currently have 13 registered players aged from four to 12-years-old.
That has enabled them to purchase 12 new game frames, which are different to the frames youngsters have for everyday use and are embossed with the Coplestonians club crest on the back.
The sessions are run by Eoin McNamee, who came across frame football while he was working as a children’s physiotherapist in 2017.
He said: “I wanted to promote accessible sport and recreation activities to the kids I was working with to allow them to carry over the skills we were working on, seek out peer support and have fun.
“This led to a fantastic few years learning the ropes at Basildon frame football completing my Level 1 until I felt ready to give a go at setting up my own group.”
He approached Suffolk FA for advice on how to set up a club and subsequently linked up with Coplestonians FC, where Youth Chair Dave McGregor has been very supportive.
Eoin continued: “Without him I would never have got it off the ground to offer our first taster sessions last September. We started with about 10 kids initially and got the ball rolling from there to continue our regular sessions fortnightly since then.
“We have 13 registered members and regularly have eight to 10 kids attend per session. The kids range in age from four to 12 years of age.
“Five of our players attended the national frame football tournament, the Richard Seedhouse Cup, earlier this year and are getting ready to go again in September at St George’s Park.”
The Coplestonians FC frame football players are pictured with Youth Chair Dave McGregor (back left) and frame football organiser Eoin McNamee (back right) at Copleston Sports Centre.
The money raised for the game frames came from a mix of support from: Go Fund Me, The Childwick Trust, The Bruce Wake Trust, Venue 16, Tru 7 cement, Activities Unlimited, the National Lottery and Great Blakenham Parish Council.
There were also direct donations from individuals Noreen Milbourne, Chris Hayes and Archie Redbond.
Eoin continued: “The sponsorship money means that each child can be provided a game frame customised to their needs to allow them to reach their maximum potential at frame football.
“The frames are provided in the team colours matched to our jerseys solidifying the team identity. Longer term sponsorship will be required to continue to support equipment needs, expanding the club and supporting attending future tournaments.”
Coplestonians FC Chair Wolfe Powell, speaking at Sunday’s session, said: “This is the first time I have seen the frames and I am absolutely blown away. It is just amazing what Eoin and his team have done.
“I feel very proud with what they have achieved and this will be part of Coplestonians’ legacy.”
Suffolk FA Football Development Officer (Growth) Kirsty Smith said: “What Eoin, Dave and the team have done is absolutely incredible! To fundraise £13,000 to secure these new game frames for these young players truly is remarkable!
“The new game frames really will make a huge difference to them and make football even more accessible to them. This session has only been going just under a year and the amount of progress it has made in that time is unbelievable and I really think we need to shout about this and give it the platform it deserves.
“These young players are fantastic – to see their development they have made over the last 12 months and, more importantly, the smiles on their faces at each session really is a heart-warming feeling!
“They absolutely adore football and these sessions have given them the chance to be part of a club, wear a kit and be part of the Coplestonians family.
“The whole set up is incredible and I want to say a huge congratulations from us as a County FA for what they have achieved so far and for leading the way with this type of provision!”
One of the frame football players using his new game frame at Copleston Sports Centre.
Suffolk FA Chair Phil Lawler, who was also in attendance on Sunday, said: “What a fantastic achievement to raise so much money to enable the club to grow and thrive.
“It’s great to see the youngsters all enjoying their football with their new frames in their club colours.
“Congratulations go to Eoin and his team and everyone involved with Coplestonians FC.”
Twelve-year-old Aiden, who captained the Coplestonians FC team at St George’s Park earlier this year, has recently undergone operations on both legs, both thighs, both feet and his right hip.
He said: “I enjoy playing as I can get more involved than normal football because I can play with other players like me.”
Pete Lambert, parent of one of the boys in attendance, said: “There are so few things that we can access. This is the only sporting activity that enables him to play on the same level as everyone else.
“It is great he can come along to a club and talk about with other people and the frames themselves are part of that identity.”
Anyone interested in attending the frame football sessions can contact Eoin McNamee on 07481 115670 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Coplestonians FC are also active on Facebook where they regularly promote the group and their events.