A football team in Westerham has been kitted out in professional new kit to match their growing height and form in the league.
Westerham Junior Football Club under-18s ‘Lions’, which finished third in the Crowborough league last season, was awarded a £250 Team Sport Award towards new kit by electricity infrastructure firm UK Power Networks Services.
Power worker, Paulie Barker, applied for the grant from his employer to support the tight-knit team of teenagers where son, Harry, has grown up playing football with his friends since he was six, backed by a dedicated team of family volunteers.
Managed by Paulie’s wife Lisa Jones, the team is coached by brother-in-law Adam Collier and son-in-law, Louis Grater. Paulie manages the squad’s equipment, helps with coaching and co-funded the boys’ new kit with his wife Lisa.
Paulie, originally from Australia, said: “These boys have played football together forever and they are like surrogate sons to us. They are giants now and we wanted to get them some new kit because most of the time they were wearing hand-me-downs.
“The Team Sport Award covered some of the costs of the kit and we made up the remainder. Sports kit is expensive, so we’re over the moon about the grant. We treat them like they are our boys and we’re always trying to do that bit extra for them.
“They are a really special bunch of kids and we love them. We look forward to watching them play on Sundays. It’s a feelgood thing when they win, but whether they win or lose it’s enjoyable to watch. It’s always been about encouragement.
“There have been seasons when we haven’t won many games, but the tide seems to be turning. They picked up the Spring Shield at the end of last season and have started this season strongly, winning their first two games.”
Club secretary Paul Carter said: “Community grants such as this are greatly appreciated as they help us to keep providing young people with the opportunity to be involved in grassroots sports.
“The tireless effort of our volunteers is priceless but unfortunately, finances can quite often dictate our level of support. This money went a long way towards helping us put our boys in a new kit.”
The team play home matches on Sundays at King Georges Playing Field, Costells Meadow, Westerham.
The company’s Team Sport Award scheme encourages staff to volunteer in the community, support grassroots sport, promote healthy living, teamwork and develop sports opportunities. Hundreds of community and sports groups have benefited from grants since the scheme was set up. During 2022, 86 teams benefited from a share in £21,500.