DETERMINED community heroes have been given backing to realise their dream of a new kind of football club.
Cali Thistle are a family youth, sports and football club in the Bishopbriggs and North Glasgow area.
They started in May 2011, catering for boys and girls born in 2001/2002 who had been unsuccessful in obtaining a position with their local teams.
The ongoing vision is that rather than only helping to find the ‘best of the best’, Cali Thistle want to promote sports in a fun, positive and inclusive way.
Head coach/manager Stewart Cameron and his coaches are aiming to give all youngsters the opportunity to be part of a team.
To begin with, Cali used a local red ash park and a grass area for training and meetings.
As his children attended Balmuildy Primary School, Stewart looking into using the grass pitch – donating goals to the school.
East Dunbartonshire Council then allowed the club to hire the pitch for training and games.
However, due to a number of factors, the club then sought and secured alternative premises – at the football park in Springburn.
Cali Thistle train there on Thursday nights – 6pm till 8pm – and are fully affiliated to the SYFA, playing in the Glasgow and District Youth Football League.
Games are currently played at the new 3G astroturf pitches at Glasgow Green and Toryglen on Sundays
between 10am and noon.
Cali currently has players from areas such as Bishopbriggs, Springburn, Barmulloch, Maryhill, Cadder and more.
A chance meeting at a parents and information night in the Eagle Lodge, Bishopbriggs, saw generous local businessman Stephen Joyce offer sponsorship.
Stewart said: “What a fantastic turn of events and act of generosity from someone I had never even seen or spoken to before.”
Stephen Joyce Consultancy Ltd provides bespoke recruitment services across a diverse range of sectors, with nearly 20 years experience in the industry.
John Cassidy, of Network ACS taxi company, also chipped in with sponsorship and support.
In addition, advice from the Glasgow Life organisation – namely Lynne Calvin and James Tonner – led to more help, assistance, guidance and overall commitment.
Stewart said: “We are now on our way to having 60 kids registered for the club as it stands.
“When I start the Cali Thistle Junior Golf Club at Littlehill Golf Course, Auchinairn, we will automatically be taken to 110 registered members.”
Cali Thistle currently have four dedicated senior coaches and four young Scottish youth coaches, as well as the committed assistance of three parents.
Recently, the club won a competition called Host Your Kit – sponsored by iomart Holdings Ltd – securing a full set of strips for 15 outfield players and goalkeeper.
Stewart said: “Our aim is to be amongst the best youth/sports/football clubs available to boys and girls – between seven and 14 years of age – regardless of ability, race or religion.”
Fundraising events which have taken place recently included bag-packing at the B&M shop at Robroyston Retail Park, a karaoke night in Barmulloch and family fun days.
There has also been support from groups such as Get Hooked On Fishing, Lambhill Stables project and others – giving kids access to mountain biking, fishing events, canoeing and off-road activities.
This is all on top of the camping, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, archery, golf and other opportunities already provided by the club for youngsters.
Anyone who wants more information or to support Cali Thistle – either as a sponsor, parent or individual – can call Stewart on 07970 551671.
* Cali Thistle is sporting its first sponsored football strips after winning Host Your Kit, a nationwide giveaway by cloud computing company iomart Hosting – which has an HQ in Glasgow.
The competition was organised by iomart Hosting to help youth football teams across the UK who were struggling to raise funds for new kits. Teams had to explain via e-mail or video why they deserved a new kit. The best entries won a brand new Adidas strip.
Phil Worms, marketing director of iomart Hosting, said: “Cali Thistle is clearly a team that has struggled against the odds. The coach has come up against so much red tape yet he’s never given up. He’s committed to helping children who aren’t always welcomed by regular teams to enjoy all the benefits that football can bring in terms of both their health and their emotional well-being. We wish Cali Thistle all the best and hope that wearing the new kit will give the players great pride.”
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