Ability secondary for club who only want team players

Lillington Juniors' under-12 side, the oldest of the teams at the fast-growing club. Picture submitted
Lillington Juniors' under-12 side, the oldest of the teams at the fast-growing club. Picture submitted

Lillington Juniors founder Ryan Cranton said a fear of rejection was the driving force behind him setting up the club in 2013.

However, it was not his own self-worth that he was concerned with, but that of his young sons who were just embarking on their footballing journeys.

“We noticed that a number of other clubs in the local area ‘cherry pick’ the so-called best young players for their teams. This is something we totally avoid,” said Cranton.

“As a dad, I just couldn’t imagine how I would feel if someone told me that any of my sons weren’t good enough for their team.”

Two years on from the club’s formation, they now have more than 150 players with new players attending coaching sessions every week.

The club, who play in the Mid-Warwickshire League, have expanded to 12 teams this season, with plans to continue growing, according to Cranton.

“Our aim is to give all players an opportunity to play football, regardless of ability, and help them develop their football skills and also their social skills that will stay with them throughout their lives.

“We place no importance on results, we simply focus on the performance of the team and the player’s attitude and effort so they can learn to understand the value of being part of a team.

“Our FA-qualified coaches are experienced at working with children and they are very quick to understand the motivation behind children playing football. Some want to simply play with their friends while others want to play in the World Cup final one day.

“It is important that we allow children to play football matches and this is why we are continually adding new teams each year to cope with the large numbers of children we are seeing at our coaching sessions.”

The Birmingham County FA recently recognised the club’s hard work and commitment to grassroots football by awarding them with the accolade of FA Charter Standard Development Club of the Year.

Rachael Blunt, lead officer for Charter Standard at Birmingham FA paid tribute to the club, saying: “We are extremely proud of Lillington Juniors; to grow as they have in such a short space of time is outstanding and they are always looking at ways to expand and improve their club.”

Now a registered charity, Juniors are as active off the field as they are on it, with a recent trip to Wembley to see England take on Estonia attended by around 250 players and their families.

Plans for the future include the creation of a men’s team, ladies’ team and the search for a new ground.

Juniors are currently offering a free taster session for any boys or girls who are currently in school years Reception through to Year 7 at their Monday evening coaching sessions at North Leamington School.

For more information 
visit www.lillingtonjuniors fc.co.uk, www.facebook.com/
lillingtonjuniors or contact Ryan on 07867 484013.