A FAMILY-RUN football academy has been set up to make the sport accessible to all children.
Tony Hewitt has founded Portchester Football Academy to give children of all abilities the opportunity for weekly football training in a fun, non-competitive environment.
Tony, 42, and his partner Tracy Gordon, 41, started the academy at Wicor Primary School in Portchester with the help of sponsors and fundraising as they believe more should be done to keep children active.
Tracy said she was overwhelmed by the generosity of friends Clive Slaughter, from C&L Management and Darren Ridge, from Onecom who between them have covered all the costs of setting up the academy, from goals to pitch hire.
‘I actually cried,’ she said.
The Seagull pub has also contributed significantly to the funding with punters donating over £200 to pots at the bar.
Tony, a dad-of-three, said: ‘They’re great at fundraising, very generous and pro-active.’
Tony began coaching his 10-year-old son Joe at Fareham Town FC before his recent transfer to AFC Portchester.
Tony said: ‘I’ll do whatever I can to give Joe the chance to fulfill his dream of going pro.’
Tony has even taken his coaching qualifications – as has Tracy – and they are now set to build the academy with help from their children.
There are currently 14 children on the books but plans are in place for expansion throughout the community, reaching underprivileged children in particular.
Tony said: ‘I like seeing the kids enjoy themselves regardless of level but I also love teaching them football.’
More volunteers are eager to help out at the training sessions and Tony is keen to attract secondary school pupils to gain experience coaching.
Tony said: ‘As this is all voluntary we need local people and businesses to support and help raise funds to allow the children to continue a much-loved sport.
‘We are in need of sponsors, footballs, kits, bibs, fold away goals and cones.
‘If you have any fundraising ideas or would like to donate to a local worthy course then please get in touch.’
The academy held its first taster session at Wicor Primary School, costing £2.50 per child. They hope to hold more sessions over the summer. To get involved e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or search ‘Portchester Football Academy’ on Facebook.