Chesterfield FC Community Trust has launched an initiative partnered with the Premier League Kicks programme during lockdown, aimed at bringing the community together and combatting loneliness.
The social action project has seen youngsters who have attended Community Trust sessions in the last 12 months writing letters to members of the Trust’s walking football teams.
The letters have given the youngsters and the senior players the opportunity to share their stories about playing the beautiful game and has seen the walking footballers pass on their advice to the future generations of aspiring players.
Neil, one of the walking footballers, said about the project: “I have to admit that, initially, I was quite sceptical, thinking that I’d have nothing in common with younger players.
“I’ve been a walking footballer for some eight years now and played in lower amateur leagues when I was younger.
“It was that thought that washed away any scepticism and persuaded me to volunteer.
“Any residual scepticism went as soon as I received the first letter from a Community Trust participant… of course we had something in common! It was our love of what Pele called ‘the beautiful game’!
“We were able to swap anecdotes of the teams we support and matches we had watched as well as our experiences in the football we played. I look forward to receiving future letters. I think that this has been an excellent initiative.”
Lucy, one of the young participants, said: “Receiving my letter from a walking footballer at Chesterfield gave me a sense of pride and achievement.
“Doing a community project at the time of a pandemic, to write to someone with the same interests as me and who also has the same passion and knowledge of the game, was extremely interesting.
“Being part of a Chesterfield FC Women’s team has made me feel like I belong to a very big football family.”
Nathan Khan, who co-ordinated the project with Alyss Hearnshaw, said: “We’re delighted with how both groups of participants have engaged with the project and it has achieved exactly what we wanted it to do – bringing people together at a time when we have been told to keep apart.
“We have read each letter that has been sent as they have come via the Trust for safeguarding purposes, to be read by our welfare officer.
“It’s been a pleasure to read the interactions and the common ground that two different generational groups have had with each other.
“The mental health benefits of social interaction have really worked with this and I’m proud that we have been a part of it.”