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New leagues in Stratford aim to get youngsters off their consoles and playing football

YOUNG people from the age of seven will be given the chance to benefit from vital exercise and sporting activity, as a brand-new concept launches in Stratford aiming to get children off their consoles and onto the pitch themselves.

The competitions take place at Stratford Leisure Centre every Wednesday. Photo: iStock
The competitions take place at Stratford Leisure Centre every Wednesday. Photo: iStock

Junior Leagues is launching new six-a-side leagues in the town with new competitions specifically designed for the 7-15 age group.

The competitions take place at Stratford Leisure Centre on Wednesday between the times of 4pm-6pm, kicking off on 15th February, and Meon Vale on the 7th, also from 4pm-6pm

The leagues are aimed at children who don’t play regular sport. Area manager George Lovett said: “We know not everyone is included in the school team, or plays for a registered club, but that’s no reason that people should be precluded from playing sport.

“To those kids we say ‘everyone gets in the team’.”

In another break with the norm, the leagues will not be age-group based, and will instead be focused on ability.

Lovett added: “We will follow the lead of countries in other parts of Europe like Holland and parts of Scandinavia, where if a group of players is good enough they will move up the divisions no matter what their age, and conversely if a team full of 15-year-olds, for example, doesn’t have the required skill set, then they will move down. It is vital that everyone enjoys this first and foremost.”

The league comes as official government figures lay bare the scale of the childhood obesity problem in the UK. Twenty six per cent of 14-year-olds were said to be obese in 2020-21 and just 40 per cent of children are taking part in sport weekly at school.

Lovett admitted that shocked Junior Leagues and said: “This has got to change.

“We have to make it fun, affordable and accessible for people to play without the need for a team of their own, which is why we are opening this league to both teams and individuals.

“We’ll make sure everyone gets a game and makes new friends along the way.”

That even extends to children who, for whatever reason, do not feel able to take part in the actual matches.

Lovett added: “We can train them to be referees, we can get them helping with the organisation of the competitions, whatever it takes to get kids involved, let’s do it.”

To join the league in Stratford, visit https://tinyurl.com/2ftbbt6t.

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