The rise from the ashes!

Way back in March 2014 a group of about 40 teenagers and young men from Mixenden, Ovenden and Illingworth began playing informal football games between themselves.

Ovenden and Mixenden Initiative approached the youths initially because they had been using pitches in North Halifax without permission, and were starting to find themselves in trouble. The lads said that they really wanted to start an open-age team but they didn’t know how to go about it.

It started as a bit of fun but 5 months later things had really progressed, inspiring partnership working in North Halifax and capturing the hearts and minds of the community along the way.

“It was clear from the beginning  that this was a serious group of young men”  said Karen Scanlon, Ovenden and Mixenden Initiative.

“They’d already organised regular Ovenden v Mixenden matches, and nominated Ozzy as their coach.  I told them honestly, I know nothing about football, so don’t ask me! But if you’re serious about setting up a team, I can put you in touch with the right people”

So, Karen set up meetings with Joe Collins from Ovenden Sports and Community Arena (OSCA) and Steve Smith from Ovenden West Riding and over 20 of the lads turned up, keen to make a good impression, and prove that they were committed.

Karen’s husband and now team manager; Ade Scanlon initially volunteered to mentor and support 22 year old Michael Ozwin who was manager at the time.

“We really didn’t expect this support, we never thought anyone would really take us seriously as a group of lads but we’ve have chance to work with a load of people and services we’d never normally meet.

It’s been challenging at times but worth all the hard work because now it’s all coming together and we can’t wait to start the season!” Adam Rayner, aged 19

Some of the lads have had a difficult past, and to signify a positive change they decided to call themselves ‘Ovenden Phoenix’ as the team is now affiliated under the Ovenden West Riding umbrella, and like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the name demonstrated the lads commitment to turning their lives around.

OSCA helped the lads apply for funding from Ovenden Community First to pay for registration fees and use of the facilities at OSCArena, Four Fields, Ovenden.

The Fire Service also helped to pay for the team kit and equipment, and had the logo designed by the lads, made into an official badge for the team. Dom Furby, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has been really supportive of the lads, meeting with them to talk through fundraising ideas and publicity, arranging for a visit from Huddersfield Town players, and setting up the pre season match against the Fire Service back in August.

10 of the players attended the Ovenden Ward Forum meeting in June 2014 looking for support. They spoke to local residents about their plans for the future, and what they’ve achieved so far.

“It was really refreshing to hear a nice group of young lads talking with so much enthusiasm and pride. They deserve a chance. You can hear that they are genuinely grateful for all the support they’ve received so far”   Val Kelly, local resident.

The lads will be out and about over the next few months with various activities and events in order to raise vital funds to keep the team going into the 2015/16 season starting with a car wash on Saturday 4 April 2015 why not go along and have your car washed… It’s for a good cause!

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