HAVING A BALL: Coach Michael Donohue putting "babyballers" through their paces at Teesdale Sports Centre
HAVING A BALL: Coach Michael Donohue putting "babyballers" through their paces at Teesdale Sports Centre

CHILDREN as young as three have been enjoying getting their first taste of football as part of an initiative to encourage them into the sport.
The “babyballer” sessions, organised at Teesdale Sports Centre, in Barnard Castle, each Saturday, were launched during the Covid pandemic by primary school teacher and football coach Michael Donohue.
He said: "This year will be the first uninterrupted season we have been able to run properly because of Covid and it's good to see more youngsters coming along."
The two 45-minute weekly sessions catering for three to four-year-olds and five to eight-year-olds provide a fun, social introduction to the fundamentals of football.
As well as free play, the sessions include little games linked to popular books such as Stick Man and Highway Rat. Mr Donohue was inspired to set up the sessions when he struggled to find suitable activities for his three-year-old son.
He added: "We set off with 12 kids and now have about 40 coming along.
“As they move up in age they can go to Barnard Castle youth football club as part of their sessions."
The sessions are run in six week blocks all year round, using the all-weather pitch in the summer and the indoor hall at the sports centre during the winter months.
Mum Sarah Ford, whose three-year-old son Charlie is one of the youngest "ballers" says the sessions provide an opportunity for the children to get used to playing with others. She said: "They've been great for Charlie and he loves the games.
“They're great for getting him used to people because of the pandemic he has not had that interaction.”
The sessions cost £35 for each six week session and children receive a completion certificate.
For more information contact Mr Donohue on 07581 071692 or email mdpeandcoaching@ gmail.com.