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CLUB FOCUS: Chalgrove Cavaliers
10:10am Wednesday 18th September 2013 in Sport
CHALGROVE’S rise to the Premier Division of the Oxfordshire Senior League has been astronomical, coming within two years of the formation of the men’s side after successive promotions, writes MATTHEW BRUCE.
The Cavaliers have been a thriving youth football club since their formation in 1961, but previous attempts to create a men’s team had been unsuccessful, leaving opportunities to play senior football in the village limited.
“Kids would play for Chalgrove until under 18s and then would have to join Wat-lington or Benson when they got older,” said men’s team secretary Simon Godfrey.
“What we wanted to do was provide them with an option to progress on to senior football.”
The new club joined the Oxford City FA in 2011 and saw immediate success, gaining promotion to the Oxfordshire Senior League at the end of their debut season.
But that wasn’t the end of their ascent as Chalgrove finished second in their first season in the league, winning promotion to the Premier Division.
“We didn’t expect to do so well,” said manager Adam Cowling.
“But we have some great players and most of them had played together for a long time in the Sunday leagues and younger.
“We’re aiming this season for a mid-table finish and hopefully we can establish ourselves at this level.”
In 2012, the men’s team signed a Football Partnership Memorandum of Understanding with the pre-existing youth club, finally creating a direct pathway into senior football.
For club secretary Mark Wasmuth, the transition was the fulfilment of a long-held ambition.
“We always wanted our players to keep playing because it’s good for their health and they were just falling out of the game before,” he said.
“We now have senior football in the village every week, we’ve seen some fantastic success and had some of our under 18s breaking into the first team.”
It was the final piece in the jigsaw for the club, which had already been awarded Charter Standard Development Club status in 2007 and had also become one of the first of Oxford United’s Community Partner clubs.
Wasmuth added: “Oxford United have been really good. They’ve given us a lot of help with coaching and given us some really good deals on tickets for club outings to games.
“Some of our younger players have never been to a football match before, so it’s a fantastic opportunity for them and they may even become regular fans as they get older.”
The club have plans in place to ease the pathway from youth football into the senior game with the formation of a reserve side next season.
“There’s a real positive vibe around the whole club,” added Godfrey.
“Our three main objectives are to sustain ourselves in the Premier Division, add a reserve side in the Oxfordshire Senior League and bring young players through to the men’s team.
“We have a very passionate committee who just want to provide the village with a good football club.”
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