Teams in the Mid-Lincs Youth League were rewarded this summer – not just for their place in the league table but for their sporting behaviour.
The league, sponsored by Lincolnshire Co-op, runs from September to May each year and more than four thousand girls and boys between six and eighteen play in it. The Society sponsors the organisation’s annual sportsmanship award, given to the teams who conducted themselves best on the sports field. As well as a trophy, Lincolnshire Co-op also donates a brand new kit to the teams who win.
Vance Tunnicliffe manages the Ruston Under-9s team, one of last season’s winners. He says that the new strips are a real treat for his players. “When the kit was presented to them at the start of the season it was like watching them open their presents on Christmas morning!”
Both the award and the league have been sponsored by Lincolnshire Co-op for many years. Richard Whittaker, Member Engagement Manager, says “We’re proud to have been main sponsors of the Mid-Lincs Youth Football League for many years now. It’s great that we can help encourage participation and fair play in football for over four thousand local young people who play for one of the teams in it.”
Vance Tunnicliffe says it’s important to his coaching staff to ensure that the boys’ focus is not just on winning matches. He says, “We constantly remind them that we are not interested in the number of goals that are scored or conceded, but how they conduct themselves and show respect for the opposition. Their parents are also brilliant, supporting both teams, which has helped to create a relaxed and fun environment where players from both sides can come and enjoy the football.”
League chairman Ron Westerman says, “Apart from the financial support which helps us to keep costs down for our players. I appreciate the practical support we receive from Lincolnshire Co-op, there’s always somebody available for presentation evenings. It’s nice because the people who win the awards are the people who are in it for the right reasons. It’s often won by teams who don’t necessarily win the league but who play because it’s fun, to learn teamwork skills and to stay active.”