In order to give children in the Comely Bank area of Edinburgh the chance to play football before they joined the school system of soccer sevens or 11-aside, back in 1997, a group of parents led by Carlo De Angelis invited children up to primary class 3 (mainly from Flora Stevenson’s Primary School) to come along to Inverleith Park in Edinburgh.

A voluntary subscription of 50p was introduced and cash started to accumulate. At the same time donations started to trickle in, raised as result of 100 or so begging letters to local businesses.

Soon ample funds were available to provide every child in the club with a ball. The parents involved at this point recognised the need to further educate themselves and started doing SFA coaching courses.

Thereafter, football coaching was introduced at sessions and bibs and markers were bought to aid a more focused approach at “Flora’s Soccer School”. The first newsletter was published, “For Real Footballers Only”, a title reflecting the club’s emphasis of participation and fun. At this stage all the footballs, markers and bibs the club possessed were transported to sessions in a 4’x3’ trailer attached to the back of the head coach’s car.

The club had moved from Inverleith Park to Broughton High School but it was soon realised that this was very restrictive. Often the whims of the school janitor dictated the access to a couple of sets of rickety aluminium goals. The premises had to be cleared by a certain time. Arriving early was frowned upon, setting up was usually a frantic process.

At about the same time further events occurred to radically change the nature of “Flora’s Soccer School”;  the club was awarded £1000 from the lottery’s “Awards For All” scheme. A change of name to Inverleith Star followed in 2002 to better reflect the fact that children from many different schools now attended.

However, the most significant event was the provision of a home base by Roman Winkler of Edinburgh Leisure. He provided part of the pavilion at Inverleith Park with keys for free access.

He sanctioned the booking and exclusive use of the flattest area at the park. The club now had the funds to buy equipment, plenty of storage space, a place to play, and the ability to organise sessions as it pleased. The club also had a 5-year renewable lease.

A year after its inception, subscriptions were increased to £1. The money was used to buy more footballs, coaching courses for an increasing number of volunteers, more goals, bibs, markers, poles and bases. The club now had some 260 children on its register and 30 or so coaches and parental helpers qualified to at least SFA “E” certificate level.  Included in the coaching group from day one was Les Atkinson, who now has the role of Spartans FC (Youth) Club Chairman, ensuring that the long term vision continues to be carried forward.

A second “Awards For All” grant was received in early 1999 allowing three of the club’s coaches to do “coaching children licence” diplomas later that year. The club now had four qualified coaches with the SFA’s Children’s Licence and one with the Goalkeeping Licence.

The club had 32 goals with nets and more sundry equipment than you could shake the proverbial stick at! An active social committee had sprung up and organised fund-raising events. The children in the soccer school benefited immensely from this progress.

Not only did they have the use of ample, well-maintained equipment, but the coaches had made the effort to increase their knowledge beyond the realms of the SFA coaching system. This is still an ongoing process and coaching workshops are organised on a regular basis to share ideas.

The club established a connection with Sunderland AFC and through their community scheme picked up many ideas from their enthusiastic and well educated community coaches.

Today the club runs coaching sessions for under 6 and 7’s, soccer sevens squads at under 8, 9, 10 and 11, and 11- aside teams at under 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 19. All perform well and do themselves, their parents and their club credit with their high standard of behaviour.

Spartans also run a Girls section, with teams at under 11, 13, 15 and 17s.

In 2003, Spartans Football Club suggested a merger with Inverleith Star in order to give the East of Scotland senior club a youth arm.

The club became Spartans FC (Youth) and remains so today, with over 100 coaches & volunteers and over 400 children actively participating in the club’s activities. It is hoped that together we can improve the facilities for not only children but adults who play football in the north of Edinburgh.

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