Bench unveiled to mark 22 years of grassroots football coaching

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Football coach with children

A football coach who popped down to help out a friend with a junior football club is still coaching 22 years later.

Dean Castles, who has been coaching grassroots football for the Meonstoke Junior Football club, known as Meonstoke Meerkats, was recognised for his unparalleled commitment this weekend by the children he coaches and their parents.

More than 65 people turned up to join the celebrations and to see the unveiling of the new bench. Dean said: “I was asked by a friend to help coach at a new club that had been set up – that was 22 years ago. The time has flown by and I still love spending my Saturday mornings here coaching football.

“I was truly stunned when the kids unveiled the bench. The kindness, gratitude and support shown from all the families who come down every Saturday with their kids was overwhelming.

“I coach because I love football and because I want everyone to have the opportunity to play at their own pace. Football for the Meerkats is about learning new skills, making friends and having fun.”

Thanks was also given to Lucy Stewart and Nicky Clark who have kept the club running in their roles as chair and treasurer of the club for more than three years.

One parent commented: “My kids really love playing football with the Meerkats. It’s a great location to come and watch the football and catch up with other parents on Saturday mornings, and now we’ll have somewhere to sit and drink coffee too.”

Meonstoke Meerkats always welcome new players. Parents of children aged between four and ten who are interested in playing football can get in touch with Meonstoke Junior Football Club via social media.

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