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HomeFOOTBALLTunbridge Wells Foresters FC celebrate their year to remember

Tunbridge Wells Foresters FC celebrate their year to remember

Tunbridge Wells Foresters Football Club are celebrating after clinching two cups for their senior men’s and women’s sides, and their Chairman Stuart Newman, is extremely proud of how far the club has come in such a short space of time.

Foresters’ senior men’s side made it a cup double for the club in May after they lifted the DFDS Kent Junior B Cup, just a few weeks after the senior women’s side took home the DFDS Kent Women’s Plate.

West Kent Sport & Wellbeing magazine’s Editor Steve Rowley spoke exclusively to Stuart who commented on his clubs season.

“It’s been another amazing year for this club, and one that I never would have dreamed of when I semi-reluctantly agreed to take on the job of Club Chair for a year. 10 years ago, the club had been through a challenging period, and it was run more like a franchise than a football club, so I agreed to take on the role on a caretaker basis. Now a decade later, I am so proud to be a part of a committee that has taken us to where we are now.”

“To finish the 2023/24 season with over 900 players and 59 teams is quite incredible. I was fortunate enough to watch both our women’s and men’s 1st XI teams win Kent County cup finals for the club recently, so little old Tunbridge Wells Foresters are now double county winners.”

Tunbridge Wells Foresters lift The DFDS Kent FA Women’s Plate at the Gallagher Stadium after an impressive 6-1 win over Petts Wood.

Growing the Foresters
As with many other clubs, Tunbridge Wells Foresters are always looking for ways to expand.

Stuart added: “The major growth areas we have looked to support in the past couple of years have been within the women’s and girls game. As of next season, we will be entering eight girls’ team, and I believe we are the only club in Kent to run three senior women’s teams.

“Our success is all down to our amazing coaches who look to nurture kids when they join us at reception age, and we have always had a strong and enthusiastic development squads. This is where the magic starts and kids will meet friends for life, having fun kicking a ball about and learning the basics of the great game whilst starting their Foresters journey.”

“Players develop in different ways but the first couple of years should be about fun and enjoying a new sport. It breaks my heart when you see player advertisements for an ‘experienced goalkeeper’ for example for an Under 8 team, wrong for numerous reasons, let them learn and have fun.”

Tunbridge Wells Foresters men’s 1st XI after winning their first piece of silverware, the DFDS Kent Junior B Cup.

Pathway to adult football
We asked Stuart about the clubs pathway to adult football, he said: “It’s only been the last couple of years that we have finally established senior teams at the club, so we can finally offer a pathway to adult football. We appreciate that not everyone will stay with us and some players will leave.”

“However, I bumped into one of our senior players at the start of last season. He had started with us as a five-year-old, then stayed with us until he left at 18. I’m proud to say I was able to watch his development as one of his coaches in junior football. Returning to the club after two years he walked up to me and with a broad smile said ‘nice to be back home Stu!’ which meant an awful lot to me.

“As a club we have had our challenges to provide just basic facilities and have battled with our local authority to offer us some support and help. We thought we had a lease for a sports ground we use, but it had more holes in it than a Swiss cheese, with so many clauses and restrictions, it would have put the club out of business financially.

“It is such a shame as the Football Foundation thought we had an amazingly sound, and financially viable strategic plan, but if the will is not there and bureaucracy gets in the way, along with ridiculous box ticking, then you have no chance. There was more concern about the future deceased in decades to come rather than the living today.”

“Junior football is where the magic starts and kids meet friends for life. Having fun kicking a ball about and learning the basics of the game, whilst starting their Foresters journey” – Stuart Newman, Tunbridge Wells Foresters Chairman.

What’s next for Foresters?
Talking about the future for himself and the club, Stuart added: “The next decade… I hope to stay on board for a bit longer if voted for by our members, and my dream would be for us to have our own ground which a club of our size deserves to have. We just need local councils to support us and understand what we and other sports clubs offer the local community – inspiring local kids to be part of a club that they are proud of.

“Seeing kids walking around wearing their club shirts in Tunbridge Wells town centre means we must be doing something right.”

• Tunbridge Wells Foresters FC are always on the look out for new players -from their senior teams to reception age. Contact them via their website at forestersfc.com or go to their social media pages for more information on how to join this wonderful club.

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