When mums get involved in football, amazing things happen
After a tireless effort to build their club up from the ground, a committed group of mums now need help to cope with a post Euro 2016 wave of interest.
At the end of last season, BTM United boasted 120 players across it’s mini section (U6 to U11) and in the wake of Wales’ wonderful French adventure up to 200 youngsters have now registered their interest.
At the first full session of the season, 150 eager boys and girls turned up to the club’s Bryn Field ground and the place was abuzz as players tried to impress their new coaches and parents caught up on the sidelines.
But it hasn’t always been like this.
Five years ago Nicola Johns had fears that the club that nurtured internationals like Jason Perry, David Pipe and Robert Earnshaw might be forced to fold.
But the tireless work of an army of parents as committed as her has built the club back to its former glory and Wales’ epic run to the Euro 2016 semi-final has kicked things on again.
Mrs Johns said: “Wales’ performance in France has had a huge impact on us.
“From the first game we started getting enquiries and that increased as the tournament went on. It kicked off again once the World Cup qualifiers started.
“But we need more helpers because if we had all the resources required we could be looking at 200 players this season. But that would be dependent on volunteers and training facilities, particularly through the winter.”
The buzz around the Bedwas based club is mostly created by mums like Kerry Ford, whose sons Jaydon, eight, and Callum, five, both play for the club, while her husband David coaches the U9 team.
This season the mum-of-two is taking on the exciting but demanding role of Mini Football co-ordinator and she said: “It’s hard work but I do it for the kids. I love seeing them have fun and listening to the stories they tell me.
“They learn new skills which aren’t just great for their football futures but for their lives to.”
That sentiment is echoed by Emma Salmoni, who is the U11 team administrator. Her husband Michael is also a coach and her son Dylan plays for the club.
She said: “My son keeps calling the players his brothers. During the school holidays he wanted to play with his friends from football.
“Their friendships are growing on and off the pitch. We’re not just teaching them to dribble a ball, we’re teaching them life skills.
“They shake hands at the end of each game and they see all the work that goes into building a club.”
It’s this ethos that has made BTM a true family club and that’s why parents are prepared to drive past other teams to get their sons and daughters involved.
For the first time this season, they’ve introduced sessions for U5 players while they continue to go from strength to strength at all other age groups.
Helen Jenkins has already signed seven new players up for the U8 team she runs and her eldest son Tyler plays for.
Meanwhile her four-year-old Isaac is delighted to be among the youngest ever intake at the club.
She said: “Both of my boys live for football and I wanted to get involved in something they love.
“Tyler had a lack of confidence and was shy when he first came along.
“Finding BTM and the great coaches has given him a load of friends and so much confidence.”
But talk has already turned to how they overcome the problem Welsh football’s massive momentum shift has presented them.
Mrs Ford said: “We need more coaches. Ideally we want one coach for every 10 players because we want to train them properly and give them the skills that they need.
“Some of our coaches are involved with two teams because they have children in both but that’s not ideal.”
But the BTM family is about far more than football. These parents enjoy an active social life which involves bowling and darts nights, golf days, Christmas parties and watching Wales internationals together.
Mrs Salmoni said: “There wasn’t anywhere near as much community spirit five years ago.
“A massive effort has been made to create a BTM family that we are all very proud of.”
And team administrator for the U7 team Zoe Grist is confident the club can sustain its rapid growth.
She said: “We know we’ll lose some once winter kicks in but hopefully we can convince more parents to step-up as the season goes on and they’re confident their children will stay with us.
“I think BTM will always be part of our lives. The history of our family links with the club goes back to when my husband was eight and he lied about his age to be able to join the club.”
A level of commitment that is evident among most of the amazing parents and players at this community club.
To join this club, contact Nicola Johns at [email protected] or click here to find a club close to your who are looking for new players