WATCH Celtic’s community ties go from strength to strength
Wednesday 9th May 2018 @ 13:45 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

Although the first team are enjoying a well-deserved rest, the Stalybridge Celtic Foundation has plenty of projects lined up over the forthcoming months.

Following the official launch of the foundation in November, community development officer, Mike Smith, has been tasked with growing the club’s appeal beyond football on a Saturday afternoon.

In a bid to achieve this, Mike has regularly visited schools to carry out coaching sessions and mini tournaments, as well overseeing the ever-growing disability teams.

Such is the success of the disability programme, Mike says the club has been forced to create a third squad to cater for an increase in numbers. Speaking to Reporter Sport about the latest developments, he said: “Now that we’re a registered charity, that enables us to attract more funding to do more projects.

“One of our successes is the disability team. We started off with one team but that grew to two, and looking towards next season, because we’ve got about 35 in the squad, we’re going to have three teams in the Cheshire East Ability Counts League, which is fantastic.

“Hopefully we’ll increase that and get a fourth team going.”

Securing charitable status has provided Mike with extra resources to help the whole community, and while this has increased his workload, he couldn’t be happier about the situation. Looking ahead to future projects he said: “We’ll be carrying on with our Active Schools Goals Programme, which sees us delivering after school sessions into local primary schools.

“We’ve got our walking footballers – our over 50s team and over 60s team – who came runners up at a competition at Fleetwood Town last week, and they also got narrowly beat by Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park on Thursday, so we’ve got plenty of tournaments and festivals to look forward to.

“We’ll hopefully get our ‘Five Pound Football Fresh Air Initiative’ back, which comes with a free McDonalds. Instead of focusing on Stalybridge, Ashton and Mossley, we’ll also roll it out to Denton and Audenshaw as well.”

Following recent contact with Oldham Athletic’s Community Trust, Mike is hoping to jump on board with a recently established project dubbed ‘Man vs Fat’. “That’s a 14 week project which allows the gents to play in a weekly league, and so Oldham are keen for us to come aboard and hopefully we’ll be their provider across Tameside, so if we can get that set up it would be fantastic” he said.

“We’re also working with the NHS to deliver an introduction to walking football, similar to the get fit challenge where men sign up to do an eight week project with the NHS, and at the end of it they manage some weight loss and lead a healthier lifestyle.”