The young footballers of Castell Alun Colts have hit the ground running as they prepare for the new season – thanks to cash seized from criminals.

The club’s Under-14s have spent their summer gearing up for kick-off in the Flintshire Junior League with a weekend away team-building, specialist coaching sessions and new waterproof training jackets.

It’s doing the trick with seven wins and a draw in nine pre-season games and their coaches have been delighted by their form.

Club Chairman Noel Teal said: “There are 18 in the squad and these boys have been together since they were eight but we just felt they needed to get some specialist coaching.

“We’ve had professionals from Progressive Sports working on their strength and conditioning over three weeks and they’ve had a night away team-bonding at Loggerheads and we’ve got the new tops for them as well.

“They’re a really good bunch of lads who have been training by Zoom during the lockdown when they couldn’t play or train together and the coaches have also done quizzes and other things remotely to build team spirit and help with their mental health.”

The pre-season preparations were paid for with a grant of £1,525 from the North Wales Police Commissioner’s Your Community, Your Choice fund and the Commissioner, Andy Dunbobbin, has paid a visit to a team training session at Castell Alun Sports Centre in Hope to see the benefits for himself.

Your Community, Your Choice, also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT) and North Wales Police, is in its eighth year and much of over £370,000 handed out to deserving causes in that time has been recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from the Commissioner.

Mr Dunbobbin even demonstrated some assured keepie-uppie football skills himself before saying: “This should put the team in a really good place for the new season and they should also be congratulated for the innovative way they have spent the time since they were last able to play together.

“It’s so important to keep that camaraderie going and that team spirit and sense of togetherness is really important in any walk of life.

“They’ve been showing some great form in pre-season and I hope they take that with them into the league.

“Sport has been hit hard by the Covid restrictions and it’s easy to underestimate how a football club like this can bring a community together and foster a really positive atmosphere.”

PACT Chair Ashley Rogers said: “This has been a cracking community project to support and the timing has been perfect for them with Covid restrictions being lifted so they can prepare for the new season.

“The timing is critical because the specialised coaching and team-building will help them catch up with what they have missed during lockdown while the waterproof jackets will always come in useful in North Wales.”

Noel Teal added: “The Colomendy team building was brilliant and the lads really loved it while the specialist coaching from two ex-Wrexham players was really important with their balance and strength.

“We wanted to get them properly match-fit because sometimes in the past we’ve been caught off guard at first when the season starts but they’ll be ready this time.”

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