The first Organisation to be set up before the Deighton Community Sports Arena was built was the Deighton Sports Council. This was constituted in 1997 and aimed to bring together all the people involved in sport in the Deighton neighbourhood in order to develop sporting activity. The intention was that the first objective of the Council would be to support the bid, being prepared by Mike Taylor and Dave Townend, to the Sport England Lottery Panel, to build a new Sports Centre on the site of the old Sports Centre which had been built in the early sixties. By 2000 the bid had been prepared and accepted and the Deighton Community Sports Arena was to be built. In November 2001 this new Centre opened to the public.
It quickly became apparent to Dave and Mike that there was a need for development work to promote the Arena and sporting activities particularly amongst young people. For this reason they prepared a second bid to the Sports Lottery to set up a new Project, called the Deighton Into Sport Project, managed by the Sports Council, which would appoint two half time members of staff, one man and one woman, to promote sport amongst young people in the Deighton and adjacent neighbourhoods.
In May, 2002, we appointed Basil Richards and Cathy Spencer to these posts. The development of the Deighton Into Sport Project, (DISP), was in their hands and the Project developed effectively as a result of their hard work. They quickly established good relationships with local schools and promoted various sports in those schools, taking coaching sessions over a six week period and then bringing the schools together for Festivals of Sport, which took place in the Arena. This was the first stage in bringing young people in to use the excellent facility which had been created. Subsequently a Saturday Football Club was set up from which sprang the team Deighton Juniors which entered its first team, an under 11 team, in the Huddersfield and District Junior League. That club now has five teams in the same League.
After about a year and a half Cathy left the Project to take another post. After discussion with Sport England we decided to make Basil the full time worker. For the second half of the Project, therefore, Basil ran all our programmes. By this time we were running an Athletics Club and a Basketball Club, as well as a Junior Youth Club called Streetwise, which was closely related to the ‘Sensations’ Playscheme, which took place each school holiday. The Playscheme has become an established part of the DISP and the Arena programme.
Basil also created links with organisations seeking to work with young people who were not fitting in well at local schools or who had left school and were now unemployed and lacking direction. Several young people were helped greatly by their links with this project and have gone on to further education and to enjoy successful careers. In this we linked successfully with Huddersfield Technical College, now Kirklees College, with which we still maintain a close relationship.
We are currently working with a similar group of (NEET) young people, with a project called the ‘D’ Project, of which this initial piece of work was a precursor.
In 2005, after the three years funding from Sport England expired, Basil moved from the Project to another post with Kirklees Council in the Priority Communities Programme. The funding for this Programme had been secured after we had made a Joint Bid, first to the Deighton Brackenhall Initiative, and afterwards to Kirklees Council, with Kirklees Leisure Services and the TALL Project at Fartown High School.
In the meantime, because it was important that DISP should be sustained and coordinated, Mike Taylor was invited to work as Coordinator for 8 hours a week. This has continued up to the present day.
However, in the Spring of 2010 we became aware that Basil Richards was now available to again work with the Project. He was invited to work initially with the ‘D’ Project, a project for young men not in education or employment, (NEET), aged 17-25, which we had initiated with the West Yorkshire Police and the Kirklees Young Peoples Services. We have now extended this to work with young people 14-16 who could be at risk. However, our intention is that he should eventually be employed to coordinate the Project full time.
Already Basil has taken initiatives to further develop stronger links with the Pennine School Sports Partnership which had previously been established on a small scale.
As Deighton Into Sport has developed, so we have gathered together a group of young men and women, many not in full time employment, whom we have encouraged to gain coaching qualifications. We have obtained funding to maintain our services and have also been able to fund our volunteers to qualify as football, basketball and athletics coaches. We now have a pool of coaches, some of whom have now gained employment in local schools, who are well trained and committed, and who are excellent role models for our children and young people. We hope to be commissioned to provide coaches to deliver sport in local schools and other appropriate organisations. We believe that because many of our coaches are living locally or grew up in the area they are in a much stronger position to influence our children and young people, many of whom can be challenging and who are in need of clear direction in their lives.
Our football Club, Deighton Juniors, is a good example of how this works. We take children from as young as five and, in many cases, keep them through until they are young men. Some of our Under 15 team this year have been with us since they played in the Under 11 team. In future we will be taking children through from Under 8, and we are able to instil in them the need for responsible sporting behaviour on the football field which has repercussions for the way they behave in the wider community. This is because our coaches are well trained and well respected.
We have also developed Basketball, which is a popular sport in this area, and have every hope that the Basketball Club, which now has an Under 12 team, will develop along the lines of the Football Club. Our policy is to set up Junior Clubs for specific Sporting activities, as well as generic activities like our Playscheme.
We have a rich cultural mix in our members, with children and young people whose country of origin is extremely widespread, and at the same time we are beginning to attract a richer social mix, with children in our teams coming form diverse social backgrounds. In a neighbourhood like this, which has always been disadvantaged, this is a great move forward. We have also been successful in giving some of our more gifted and talented young people the opportunity to further their careers in professional or semi-professional sport.
We have clear policies for Equal Opportunities, Child Protection, and Anti-bullying, behavioural guidelines for players, coaches and parents, and we believe that everything we do is focussed on helping to make our community a more integrated and cohesive community, and our children and young people more responsible members of that community. Already we have had more than a thousand individual children and young people in membership with our Project, with up to ten thousand individual attendances at our activities. We have enabled at least fifty volunteers to gain experience and qualifications and through our work in schools we have had an influence on hundreds of school children. We have also been successful in involving parents in our activities and well over two hundred parents and friends attended this year’s Presentation Evening for the Deighton Juniors Football Club.
We have also had a high profile in the increasingly successful Deighton Carnival which takes place on the Deighton Centre Campus and this year attracted 5000 people. We organised football and basketball Competitions for children and young people which involved over 200 individuals and generated enormous interest amongst parents and members of the local community. Events like these give our project a high profile and demonstrate the success of our project and its standing in the community.