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Home goal for local football team

Appleby Magna Football Club is hoping to say goodbye to the days of gaffa taped goals, after receiving a major cash boost from IM Properties’ Mercia Park Community Fund.

Nearly £5000 has been awarded to the club to buy new equipment for its mixed teams of under 8’s and under 10s and a girl’s team of U12’s, which includes new larger goal posts, portable floodlights, flags, sub bench and tent.

Mercia Park’s £350,000 Community Fund managed by Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation was set up by developer IM Properties to have a positive social value impact on the communities surrounding its 238-acre scheme on junction 11, M42.

Parish Councillor Emma Bird, who is the Club Secretary runs the club together with a number of other parents from the village and surrounding area said that while it’s surprising how effective a roll of gaffa tape can be in extending the life of the equipment, it is finally good to replace all their second-hand kit.

“The grant is a really big boost for us. We’re all busy parents trying to juggle families and run the team and COVID has made it even harder to put on fundraising events.”

35 players, 16 of which are girls turn out to train and play matches each week for Appleby Magna and the football club hopes to add an under 7’s at some point in the future.

“Taking part makes such a difference to the teams,” adds Emma. “They love playing and learn some great skills, most importantly how to work as part of a team and support each other and that you can’t do everything by yourself.

“It was really evident during the first lockdown how much they missed the training and matches, and it took them a while to get their fitness levels up again. These types of activity for children are crucial for their long-term wellbeing and we hope we will be up and running again soon.”

Emma reports the village is also very supportive of the team. The Appleby Inn is the main sponsor for their kit and says even the locals stop her in the street and ask how they’ve got on.

“One gentleman who I pass every day noted that the players had battled on in the rain during a match and said he took his hat off to them for keeping going. The children are great ambassadors for the village.”

The Mercia Park grants of up to £5,000 are being primarily directed at projects which strengthen communities or improve the natural environment.

Kerry Amory who works on IM Properties Social Value programme said they were delighted to be supporting the team and looked forward to watching one of the matches in the spring.

“We have really enjoyed talking to all of the projects receiving grants and hearing their stories of the difference they will make.

“Without the hard work and commitment of people like Emma and other parents, these teams would never happen. We couldn’t be more pleased to give them a helping hand and look forward to seeing the players in action.”

IM Properties is committed to delivering sustainable development across its business. Working in partnership with its occupiers and supply chain it aims to create jobs, skills and training opportunities, in addition to long-lasting social value benefits for the local community.

The next round of grants is now open for applications. For further information on the Mercia Park Community Fund visit https://www.llrcommunityfoundation.org.uk/apply-for-funds/mercia-park-community-fund-open/