A soldier is running 50 miles to make sure young Ordsall footballers can enjoy the same opportunities he had as a lad growing up in the area.
“I’ll never forget where I’m from,” says Joe Ferries, who left the area 18 years ago but remains committed to supporting his childhood community and specifically Ordsall Park Juniors Football Club.
Mr Ferries, now a 36-year-old soldier and father-of-four based in Tidworth, credits the Ordsall community with making him the man he is today.
He said: “I’ve had a great time, and I’ve really enjoyed my career, but I always reflect back on my roots.
“The way we do things in Salford and Ordsall has made me a successful soldier.”
He moved aged 18 to join the army but has never forgotten his history and the sport he played as a boy.
He said: “It was a really big part of my childhood.
“It’s quite a deprived area and there’s not a lot to do. As a kid, for me, there wasn’t a lot of teams, and there wasn’t a lot of competitive sport opportunities. But football was fundamental to my youth as a child in Ordsall, and that was pretty much what we did to try and stay out of trouble.”
Knowing how much of an impact football had on his childhood, he wanted to give the same opportunity to the children of his hometown.
He said: “If it wasn’t for grassroots and competitive sports, I kind of question what they would be doing. What’s their childhood like if they haven’t got the opportunity to compete and to play with other people? It’s not just the competitive aspects; it’s the social aspects of football too.”
He calls himself a very average runner, so the ultramarathon is a physical challenge as well as a fundraiser. As of May, he has raised £365 towards his £500 goal.
The junior football offers opportunities for children aged four to 13 years old. After opening in 2018, the club now has 16 youth teams in the area and is constantly growing.
Club secretary and treasurer Carla McFeely said the money he is raising will have a massive impact on the club.
“Because we’re right in the middle of the Ordsall estate, we need to keep our [subscription] quite low, so we don’t exclude any families that are potentially on a low income. So, we charge as little as we possibly can,” she said.
However, that means the club cannot afford certain niceties, including buying the children extra kit and training equipment. So the money from the fundraiser will buy nets, trophies, and kits for the teams. The children are also raising funds for their tracksuits.
“It’ll go towards making sure no child is left out,” she said.
“We don’t want anyone excluded from being able to afford to buy them. Things like what Joe is doing fill the gap for those who can’t get there.”
She says it’s essential for the youngsters to have the team kit as it gives them an immense sense of pride.
“We’ve heard stories of children who, when they first get the kits, when they’re going to bed, want to sleep in the kit.”
The social aspect of the club is also important for the children and parents, as Mr Ferries said. The club is planning to give back to the community too by arranging a litter pick at a local park.
“Without the time and energy volunteers give, we’re nothing,” says Mrs McFeely who is also hoping to recruit more volunteers to help out.
To sign your child up to the club or volunteer your time, contact Ordsall Park Juniors Football Club at email@example.com.
To donate to the club via Joe Ferries’ fundraiser on May 22 click here.