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Sponsorship helps build Nelson club's junior football programme
As many pairs of football boots sit idle throughout the country, one Nelson football club has scored some off-field success.
Despite the ongoing challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Mike Greer Homes Nelson has committed to a substantial three-year partnership that will see them support the FC Nelson junior football pathway programme.
Mike Greer Homes Nelson director Richelle Petersen said sponsoring the club's programme offered an opportunity for local children to receive some of the best local coaching available and the chance to showcase their talents.
"But importantly it's investing in something positive and supporting the wellbeing of young people, in these very difficult times," she said.
An agreement on the partnership was reached just prior to the covid-19 lockdown in March.
FC Nelson president Phillip Thompson said without the sponsorship commitment from Mike Greer Homes Nelson, it would be "impossible" to provide a pathway for motivated junior players in the region.
He said the fact that the company has maintained its sponsorship in spite of the changing economical landscape "shows real integrity".
The club had around 200 junior players on its books. The sponsorship would boost its junior framework for children aged between six and 13 years.
Central to the pathways scheme will be the development of the FC Nelson's School of Football, a platform for skilful and most importantly motivated young footballers.
"We have worked very hard as a club through our junior framework programme to provide our junior players with quality coaching and a clear structure and this agreement will ensure the continuation of these development pathways."
"There are other academies around so we're not looking to compete with them - it's just an extension of what we do at FC Nelson."
FC Nelson football director TJ Hansen said the aim of the club's football pathways, developed together in conjunction with Tasman United, was to create a clear direction.
"We see the role of these pathways going way beyond football, it's about developing leadership, about developing young players physical and mental wellbeing."
The football season is currently not planning to resume until the end of May.
Thompson said despite the major effect of the Covid-19 outbreak on local sport, sponsors and club members had remained loyal.
"The good thing is I've honestly had no phone calls or requests to renege or ask for their money back - it's just been 'keep us informed, we know it's a national crisis, so we'll stick it out'."
Thompson said competitive matches were likely occur at a level one stage and the club would be guided by government advice as to when non-contact and small training groups could resume.
At that time, the finer points of the school of football could be determined, Thompson said.