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Significant Progress Achieved by Angels in the Community

Don Welsh Q & A Dec 2022

100 Participants in School Holiday Soccer Clubs with new Community Programme to be launched

Owners Committee Member, Wink Tomkinson recently caught up with Dom Welsh (U18s Coach and Community Officer) to find out about the success of the Angels School Holiday Soccer Camps and also learnt much about the four new Angels Community offerings that are about to be launched:-  

Wink Tomkinson (WT) Before we look forward to the expansion of the club’s Community football programme, let’s take a look back to from where, and how far, it has come. From Saturday morning schools, with yourself, hosting probably less than 20, almost exclusively boys, to the forthcoming half-term courses with over a 100 boys and girls attending. It’s a real success story, and if I can say so, something of which you should be extremely proud.

Dom Welsh (DW) Firstly, thank you! This is definitely something I’m proud of, and the club should be proud of. The out reach and what we can offer to the community has shown massive growth in the last 12 months! We first started nearly 6 years ago, behind the marquee with Saturday morning sessions for anyone who wanted a kick around, we had sessions with just 4/5 children involved, to seeing our current half term course maxed out with 100 children per day, and the introduction of 4 new community events!  It’s excellent for the club, it’s excellent for the community and it’s all down to the hard work of all our coaches who deliver excellent sessions consistently!! The hard work now starts to grow our new events and maintain the success! 

WT So moving to the announcement of the new Community programme, there’s literally something for both ends of the age spectrum from a pre-school child to an old, bespectacled duffer like myself! Let’s start with the Pre-School Fun Club, what can parents expect for their modest investment of £5 per session on a Thursday morning?

DW: ORGANISED CHAOS! Our pre school sessions are going to be fun filled sessions, mainly based around developing key motor skills for the children, as well as introducing smalls elements of the beautiful game! Our pre school sessions will also invite parents to join the children and join in with our fun sessions, providing parent and child memories to be made!

WT Thursday’s will be a busy day as the focus switches to school years 3-9 with an after school club that, once again, only costs a fiver!

DW: This initiative is one we hope to see grow, it’s an opportunity potentially for children locally who may not get the opportunity to play at Longmead given the chance to come down after school and play on the pitch! But also its more of a chance to connect young children and make Longmead a home for football in Tonbridge! Giving the children a chance to learn some new skills, interact socially and have some fun in a structured environment! 

WT And from five-year-olds to the slightly older generation! Thursday afternoons brings the Walking Football for the over-50’s. Obviously the title speaks for itself, you are not allowed to run! But what can the over-50’s expect in terms of exercise, before they retire to the bar!

DW: Walking football has seen a huge rise in participation over the past 5 years, giving the older generation a chance to continue their love for football, and stay active! We expect good early growth for this event, with lots of early interest shown! Longer term we hope to create a league for teams on Thursdays and just give them a chance to get out on the pitch and play!!

WT But it’s not just case of Thursdays, we have Little Angels Academy on a Saturday morning for Reception Years 1 and 2. Academy suggests elite, but at this age, this is not the case I guess!

DW: Certainly not, Saturdays will be introductory sessions into football, where we start to introduce key elements of the game, again this will be based around fun activities with the aim to be learning through play. Children at this age will learn best with a ball at their feet, making mistakes, exploring with the ball and scoring as many goals as they can! It’s all about creating a love for the game so that they continue to play within the future! It will certainly still have that element of organised chaos! 

WT Let’s close this down with something frivolous and possibly embarrassing for anyone  mentioned! You have been involved with the development of young players now for six years, who stands out for you as the player you look back and proudly think, I’ve played a part in that development?

DW: Great question! It’s very difficult to track where some of these players end up! Especially those that I have worked with from the community point of view! However, the biggest thing for me is lots of children I coached in the early years of the community programme still recognise me, still say hi every time I see them, and for me that’s something that shows me that they enjoyed their time with us! Lots of the early years children continued to play with our partner club TJFC and some into the TAFC Kent Youth League teams! And I was pleased to see one lad who attended our Saturday morning sessions for a short period making his step 5 debut recently , making me feel old!

Looking at the other side of the youth spectrum within the KYL set up, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some excellent players. It’s been excellent this season to see some of my ‘original’ players from U13’s start to make steps into non league football at step 5! One thing I am proud of and always have tried to maintain is, no matter what level any player I work with ends up at, is firstly they’ve enjoyed working with me and the club, and secondly and most important that they have left the club a better footballer and a better person! One player who has certainly progressed in his football, and although I only got to work with him for 1 season at U16’s is Nathan Jeche. He’s certainly making some noise on the non league scene currently after signing his first professional contract at local rivals Maidstone United this season! Having only worked with Nathan for one season, he’s certainly a player who’s character and playing style certainly made a strong impression and was a pleasure to work with! I have no doubt that he has all the right attributes, especially psychologically to do really well in football! His progress in just one season with us was massive, and that’s all down to his own hard work! A players journey I will certainly follow with interest! 

And of course not to forget the academy, there’s been a whole host of talent who have thrown themselves into non league football and made a difference to respective clubs, Luca Woodhouse signing at Wycombe was excellent for the academy, Ned Lewis smashing it over in the US, as well as the numerous first team debuts! Lots of the credit to Parky for the success created there!!  

For full details of the new Angels in the Community programme for young people and those 50+ please click or tap here. 


Published Sunday 12th February 2023