East Stirlingshire Football Club is planning an ‘out of this world’ experience for kids as part of an exciting development to deliver a new community football programme.
‘East Stirlingshire Galaxy’ is a joint partnership between the Bainsford-based SPFL Scottish League Two side and Little Kerse Leisure, who run the LK Galaxy Sports football facility at Grangemouth’s old BP Club site.
The idea is to get everyone from pre-school onwards participating in fun football coaching sessions with the aim of eventually getting kids wearing Shire’s famous black-and-white hoops in a series of community teams participating in under-age leagues.
From there the most talented could have a chance of progressing all the way to the Bainsford club’s first team through an innovative player pathway programme which also includes a route into the Forth Valley Academy.
There are also plans to develop programmes for adults including those with learning disabilities.
The partnership has already made its first signing in SFA-qualified coach, Jason Bolam, who will become the scheme’s Community Engagement Manager.
Other activities will include holiday camps, special one-to-one coaching sessions and birthday parties.
“We want the Galaxy to become the centre of the universe for youngsters in the local area to learn the basics, hone their skills and become the next generation of Shire fans and players,” said club chairman, Tony Ford. “Community programmes are not new and we accept that other clubs have been running them for years, but we have to recognise that we need to reach out to the future and try and grasp it.
“Only by devising plans like this will the club continue to be relevant in years ahead.”
The coaching sessions will be based at Little Kerse which operates under the LK Galaxy Sports brand. The Grangemouth football centre already has one full-sized 3G pitch, a number of five-a-side courts as well as quality grass football pitches.
In time, the club’s community teams will become part of the project with East Stirlingshire Galaxy giving as many kids the chance to play in the black-and-white hoops.
Jason Bolam is looking forward to finding recruits and setting his coaches to work.
“This is a really exciting stage for LK Galaxy Sports and East Stirlingshire FC,” said Jason. “The Shire are perfect partners and share our ambitions. We can’t wait to get started and, from a personal view, I hope to do it justice in my Community Engagement Manager role.”
The agreement between East Stirlingshire and Little Kerse Leisure will run for an initial three years. Both are committing substantial funding to the project and part of the finance is coming from the Scottish Government through its Scottish Communities League Cup investment.
“Our players and coaches already use Little Kerse as their training base and only recently we opened a dedicated club changing facility on the site,” said Shire chairman Tony Ford.
“It makes perfect sense to grow our club’s future here. I am really looking forward to seeing our first intake in the new community programme out with a ball at their feet enjoying themselves.”
For Stephen Barr, the Managing Director of Little Kerse Leisure, having a senior professional football club as a partner is the perfect match.
Plans are already in the pipeline to improve the facilities and make the site into a top-class football venue.
“We are bringing together two brands in a genuine partnership to provide mutual benefit,” said Stephen. “In the years ahead we both will be working along with with a wider range of stakeholders to transform the whole of the Little Kerse site which we hope will provide The Shire and others with a permanent home.
“East Stirlingshire Galaxy is the starting point.”