Major award for Freethorpe FC

PUBLISHED: 09:51 16 May 2008 | UPDATED: 09:15 11 May 2010

Celebrations at Freethorpe Football Club.

Celebrations at Freethorpe Football Club.

Freethorpe Football Club have been recognised for the dramatic strides it has made in recent seasons by receiving the FA Charter Standard Community Club Award.

Freethorpe Football Club have been recognised for the dramatic strides it has made in recent seasons by receiving the FA Charter Standard Community Club Award.

The club has been in existence since 1912 and became Norfolk's first adult FA Charter Standard club in 2003, and now they are the fifth club in the county to receive the Football Association's pinnacle award, writes Michael Bailey.

The award was presented at the village side's ground and club secretary Stephen Smith was delighteds.

“The charter standard has been the catalyst of development for the club. It has given us the structure for how to develop,” said Smith. “It's fantastic. The development has been rapid. We've now got 22 FA qualified coaches including five ladies, a child welfare officer, a lot of our parents have been on the FA soccer parent course to learn how to behave. We have codes of conduct and constitutions for the players, officials and parents at the club.”

The club is now home to 12 football teams, including three men's teams, three girls' teams at U12, U13 and U14 levels, plus six boys' teams from U8 through to under U14s.

The development success off the pitch has been matched on the pitch, with the men's first team winning promotion in successive seasons.

Next season they will be competing in Division Four of the Anglian Combination, with hopes of further progress.

The U14s reached the quarter-finals of the County Cup, were finalists in the Norfolk and Suffolk Youth League Cup and are hopeful of finishing runners-up in the league.

But although some players travel to turn out regularly for Freethorpe, the main aim is to bring in young players from a radius of five miles.

“We are about providing the opportunity,” added Smith. “We haven't got a massive population base but we try to provide the opportunity for local children to play football. It's a very big part of my life personally. I'm very proud of what we've created at Freethorpe Football Club and we've actually become the focal point of the community.

“Since the development of the football club, vandalism is virtually non existent in the community because so many feel ownership of the place.”

The club has 170 players, with a new community pavilion on the way once final funding has been secured. “We obviously try to do everything correctly. We don't always get things right but we always try to do things correctly, play in a sporting manner and do our best to forward football in Norfolk,” said Smith

Last year the club was the national winner of the FA Charter Standard Club of the Year Awards and walked out onto the hallowed turf at Wembley to be presented with it in front of 90,000 fans at the England v Croatia Euro 2008 qualifier last year.

Their latest community award means Freethorpe will receive an educational coaching day for the club's youngsters from the FA Skills team, plus £400 worth of Umbro equipment.

Norfolk FA's chief executive Shaun Turner added: “The recent achievements of Freethorpe are simply fantastic.”

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