We haven't done a blog for some time, mainly because we hit a bit of wall with progress at The Athletic due to needing funds to continue. Basically the main things left to do are the pitchworks (quotes of average £10,000) changing rooms (quotes of at least £20,000) sort the car park, boundary wall repair, the embankment and a new ramp down to the pitch (approx £10,000 in total excluding tarmac!). Obviously we don't have that sort of money available so it was a case of working hard behind the scenes again to raise funds in order to progress any further!
The state of play in October 2021 - embankment, broken entrance wall and ramp into the car park and from the car park down to the pitch itself . You can also see snippets of the pitch in a couple of the photos.
Crowdfunding, learning, adapting, realising grass isnt cheap and getting the pitch sorted!!
As we hit the ‘funds hurdle‘ we were made aware of a new scheme supported by Sport Wales which involved setting up our own crowdfunding page and setting a target amount of what we wish to raise. Sport Wales would then give 30% of the target as a grant if we successfully hit it.
We set our target (pretty ambitiously) at £20,000 as this was the amount needed to get changing rooms at the ground. After the first week (out of 4) of crowdfunding we had raised £1700 and realised pretty quickly that we were never going to hit our target! We revised it to a more realistic figure of £5000 which meant we would need to raise £3500 and Sport Wales would give us the extra £1500!
At the same time we also had a few companies out to look at the pitch and to give us some quotations to recover it so we could know what we are up against. We didnt expect this to be too drastic as we had already done so much work on the pitch and it was looking a million times better than this time last year. All companies explained that there are only small patches in the centre of the pitch (darker areas) that contain the grass suitable for a football pitch, the rest of the grass needs to be removed and replaced which is pretty much the whole pitch! I had a feeling a bit of work was needed but didnt think it was that bad! They all explained the same thing and on closer inspection it is pretty clear that whats there is nowhere near good enough, the pitch wouldnt last 1 match!
The average price of quotations received from the 3 companies was £10,000 to remove the existing grass and weeds, install drainage, seed, feed and lay sand on the pitch to get it back up to a playable standard.
With our new crowdfunding target of £5000 set, and our newfound realisation that grass is mega expensive we did all we could to raise as much funds as possible for the remainder of the crowdfunding page duration. I am pleased to say that thanks to so many generous people in our area (approx 90 in total) we managed to raise just shy of £8000 in the end!!
We are so grateful to everyone that contributed and helped our cause, we have now placed the order for the pitch works which will start in the spring (March) and we have been assured that they will get the pitch playable by the summer which is absolutely amazing news! This has always been our target but to know that whatever happens now, the kids will be playing on there next season is what it has always been about and a massive relief!
Amco the saviors!!
As part of our crowdfunding we had to make a video of what had been done at the ground to date and explain what is left to do etc. Fortunately for us some very kind people from Amco saw it and realised we needed help and approached the club to ask what they could do! This was such an amazing surprise and a great opportunity for us to get some much needed work done! I met the guys at The Athletic, talked through what was needed with regards to the car park, boundary wall, embankment etc and they explained what they thought they could do for us. They were so helpful and came up with some great ideas of what they could do to help, it just needed to be signed off. After a nervous couple of weeks waiting to hear if it would be possible they got back in touch to say that they would be starting the works the following week!!!
They cleared the car park of all the rubbish & overgrown weeds (quite a few skips worth!) and stoned up any areas needing repair to give us a safe, level car park. This is the area where our visitors will park and where we will place our changing rooms once we can afford them so it is ready for that now too!
They also made safe the existing crumbling boundary wall and installed a new fence tying the new gate to the wall. This has meant that we could finally get rid of the temporary fencing that has been there for years and it looks much much better!! They also installed a new stone ramp to the entrance gate which means access for vehicles is now easier and less likely to rip the exhaust off!
We have had an 'issue' with the steepness of the embankment not being safe for the children, so were asked by the council to take the gradient out of it. We asked the councils engineers what they would like us to do and they refused to help so we were left scratching our heads. Amco then suggested installing a post and rail fence at the top of the embankment to stop anyone accessing it. This was a great solution as it meant we didnt have to lose any of the car park or we didnt have to spend any money on getting our own engineers out to provide us with details of what to do with the existing bank.
This also meant that Amco could install an access ramp for us from the car park down to the pitch! This is absolutely ideal for our young players to get to and from the pitch safely. It can also be used as access for maintenance vehicles whilst carrying out the pitch works and for future maintenance.
Amco spent a full week working at The Athletic for us and the work they carried out there is absolutely amazing!! What took them a week would have taken us months, and thats without raising the funds to do it as well! We honestly cant thank you enough for your help, its a bit of a cliche but it really has made a massive difference and will benefit the current 200 children we have playing for us as well as all future players, thank you! ( www.amcogiffen.co.uk )
The final touches to make it 'our home' and how you can help?!
Although we have made massive steps forward with the pitch funds sorted and also the car park and boundary and embankment/ramp sorted we still have a few final touches required to make The Athletic our home! We need changing rooms and ideally a small clubhouse for supporters to be able to have cup of tea and shelter from the weather. This same venue could be used for coach education and for events for our young players.
We are constantly applying for grants and funding, but it is difficult to secure. This last year alone I have applied for 16 grants and secured 3. That is why our own fundraising and sponsorship is so important to us! If you would like an advertising board put up on our boundary fence please get in touch by emailing email@example.com. We would like to thank our current sponsors Bayside, Peyton and Alphafence who all have their signs displayed on our main fence ready for next season!
Our current sponsors proudly displayed on our boundary fence
Finally we are running an open air cinema night showing ‘Home Alone’ this Christmas. The event is to get our local community together over the festive period and to help us raise further funds for The Athletic. Santa will be there handing out gifts to the children and there will be food and drink as well as glow sticks and glow in the dark bracelets on sale too.
If you are interested in attending please send an email to the address noted on the picture below.
Thank you for reading! We hope you all have an amazing Christmas and we will be back with more updates in the New Year.
Bring on the opening day planning!! KJ