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In a League of Their Own

The new football season has begun, so we laced up our boots and went for a kick about with Molesey Juniors.

Words | Janine Macqueen


Molesey Juniors Football Club is very dear to my heart, as I have fond memories of cheering from the side lines, watching my nephews play, come rain and shine. So it was an absolute pleasure to sit and chat to Robbie Ablett, one of the club coaches, to talk all things football – even though, as I found out, he doesn’t support my beloved Arsenal!


I begin by asking how he got involved in the club, “I joined about four years ago, because of my son really. He was four at the time, and wanted to play football, but there were not any clubs locally who offered football to anyone under seven,” he shares. “So, I had a chat with the chairman, and he said, let’s see if we can get something started, and before I knew it, I was in!” Instantly, it’s clear to see Robbie’s passion for football and the club, as he continues enthusiastically, “We went from 15 boys, to 20, 30, 50 and then 60 boys! I am now a coach for the Under 9 Bears.”


This is all the more impressive when you hear that when Robbie first joined the club it was just stabilising itself after being in some financial difficulty. “I work in e-commerce” he explains, “and on the digital side, I gave the club a new website, which helped change the way players registered by using payment gateways, saving the club thousands of pounds. Also, when I joined there were about 13 or 14 teams in total, now, since the Mini Moles started (which is targeted towards younger children), this coming season we will have 27 teams.”


It is wonderful to hear that the club is doing well, having as it does, a great history of being successful with players like Manchester United’s Luke Shaw starting his playing journey at Molesey Juniors. “The club has been going for over 60 years now”, Robbie says. “And during that time we have had great players like Luke go on to do brilliant things, but more importantly we are a community club, and are focussed on kids having a fantastic time.”


“We are a community club, and are focussed on the kids having a fantastic time.”

He goes on to explain what makes playing at Molesey Juniors different from some of the other local teams. “The way we structure our training is all about the kids having a ball at their feet, being able to play with freedom and to be brave. It comes down to the club ethos. We present a vision to the players, we help them, encourage them. For example, I asked my team how they want to play, and we now base our ethos on Manchester City, passing out from the back, lots of passing skills. It encourages the kids to become engaged.”


It is refreshing talking to Robbie. As someone who has been passionate about the beautiful game for many years, I have been watching the rise of women’s football year on year with excitement. And who will ever forget the amazing Lionesses’ outstanding achievement this summer? They have already gone down in history. So, finding out about grass roots football opportunities for girls at Molesey Juniors is thrilling to me.

Robbie shares that his personal vision for the club is to have a 50/50 split of girls and boys playing football, but realises that there is still some way to go. “When I started four years ago I realised that there were loads of girls who came, that then drifted away because they were outnumbered by the boys. So I started a girls version of Mini Moles, and have now created two new teams, with 40 girls playing every week”, he says with a big grin on his face. “Girls football was already on the rise in the club, that was not because women’s football was becoming popular on TV”, he is quick to add. “It was more that I could see there was an appetite for it in the area, when the girls play they have so much fun. I am passionate about making it equal when playing football for everyone.” With Robbie leading the charge I do think that he will achieve his vision.


With exciting plans afoot for the club, what does the next 60 years look like for Molesey Juniors? “We are going through planning at the moment, and fundraising to build an amazing clubhouse at The Wilderness, it’s going to create a community venue for people to come, have a coffee, and for the kids, there will be a clubhouse they can feel proud of. It’s about setting it up for the next generation of football players to come through the club, and for the next 60 years.”


And for me, I am looking forward to many more years’ standing on the side lines, hopefully cheering on my great-nieces and nephews – come rain or shine!

 

Molesey Juniors is one of the largest and oldest clubs in the Elmbridge area. They are an FA Charter Standard community club, founded in 1953. Their purpose is to to give local children the opportunity to enjoy playing competitive football in a safe and friendly environment.

If you’d like to help with the fundraising, please visit gofund.me/f8739868


For more information on teams or sponsorship Online moleseyjuniors.co.uk

Facebook @moleseyjuniorsfc





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