We're aiming to put £5 million a year into grassroots football.

February 14, 2020

Getting To Know... Peterlee Helford

What is grassroots football?

To some people, it could be that grassroots football is simply local football – a place where people gather to play the game on a weekend.

To others, however, grassroots football can mean so much more.

James Lowery is one of those people.

Initially joining Peterlee Helford as a junior coach for 10-year-old son Kian’s team, Lowery has poured his heart and soul into the County Durham club in order to ensure its future.

In three years Lowery has witnessed significant progress.

And while it’s been a whirlwind of a journey for the current chairman, he admits that his tenure hasn’t all been plain sailing.

“When I joined Peterlee it looked as though it was a struggling club if I’m honest,” said Lowery.

“That might sound a bit harsh but I thought that there wasn’t any direction.

“There was no guidance or leadership and it just seemed to be that we were struggling and we didn’t really have a development plan in place.

“Initially, I stepped back from coaching which was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made.

“To step back and give my team to someone else for two years was hard.

“We needed a development plan. It took me eight or nine months to fully understand what we had and where we wanted to go.

“That’s now in place and we need to make sure that we keep going.”

Peterlee Helford is a club that prides itself on its connection to the local community.

Founded in 1991, by club president Andy Reid, its vision for the future is to offer low cost football for all children in a safe environment, something which Lowery strongly advocates.

“One of the main issues for me was trying to work out what’s fair or unfair to charge a child to play football,” Lowery said.

“We’ve kept our cost to £20 and they haven’t increased.

“Sometimes, if it gets to a certain point where a parent can’t afford to pay, then we’ll let it ride for a bit until they can afford to pay it.

“That's what we stand for as a club.

“To me, grassroots football means seeing that kid who came in on day one and watching how they grow as a person.

“We want to help them progress.

“For me, it’d be heart breaking to think that the costs of playing football could outweigh a child’s subs.”

While Peterlee Helford have already come a long way in less than four years, Lowery knows that the club has to push on in its effort to make grassroots football affordable for all.

And when Lowery found out about GiveToLocal, he admitted he couldn’t wait to get the club involved.

“I think GiveToLocal is just what grassroots football has been waiting for,” said Lowery.

“It’s a simple idea that will bring much needed funding to every team in our club.

“Peterlee Helford relies so heavily on the kind generosity of each of our parents along with the support of a few local businesses to keep the respective teams from folding.

“Each year the cost of pitches, kits and equipment seems to increase sadly.

“The GiveToLocal concept gives our teams and our club an opportunity to build for the future knowing that our funding is securely in place.

“We like the idea of local businesses who have sponsored teams advertising on the GiveToLocal platform.

“There is the opportunity for those businesses to offer discounts to club members.

“It’s such a great idea where both parties gain.”

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