ROBIN Hodges runs the Pinhay House Residential Care Home with his wife of 31 years Carole. Mr Hodges, 55, also runs the Saturday Morning Football sessions in Uplyme, encouraging youngsters to stay active and develop a passion for the beautiful game.
WHAT’S the aim of Saturday Morning Football in Uplyme?
The aim is to encourage children and young people to come along and try football in a friendly, non-competitive environment, and to help people make friends.
WHERE is it held?
On Uplyme playing field from 9am to 10.15am every Saturday from September to May. We play in Woodroffe Sports Hall from January to March. We started going there when the field was badly flooded and we couldn’t play for several weeks. It helps to guarantee football during the wet, winter months, and the kids love the speed of 5-a-side games.
HOW did you get involved with the Saturday Morning Football programme?
It was started about 17 years ago by Uplyme Church as a spin off from their “Friday Club” that was held in the village hall. A group of lads wanted to play football so they used to turn up for a kick-about on a Saturday morning. I got involved when my boys started wanting to play and as we attend Uplyme Church it was a natural thing to do.
HOW is it funded?
Purely by donation. We don’t charge to come along on Saturday mornings, it’s a service to the community of Uplyme run by the church. The only time we ask for a small donation is when we move into Woodroffe Sports Hall for the winter, as we have to pay to hire it. The equipment is provided by the leaders and Uplyme Church. We have been very lucky in the past two years, with some generous donations from the community. People obviously see it as a blessing to the village.
IS there an age limit for the children attending?
Well, it is aimed at 5-11 year olds, but we have children from about four years to lads of about 15 coming along. Everybody seems to get something out of it; we even have children from Chard who come along. We all warm up together and then split up into age/ability groups and play some football. Every now and again we mix everybody up and it’s great to see the older lads helping and encouraging the youngsters.
HOW has your role with the programme developed?
I started off just helping out on the odd occasion, however, as the years have gone by I took over the running of it. I have to ensure we have all the records and checks up to date, the risk assessments are done and we have first aid cover while we are playing. From being just a bunch of lads and a church leader turning up on a Saturday morning, we now have to be properly organised, although we are still the same at the core.
WHAT gives you the motivation to get out of bed on a Saturday morning?
I think it’s just the enthusiasm I encounter from the children that come along. They are desperate to join in and play some football. The parents often arrive all bleary eyed at 8.50am, saying that their child has been up since 6am with their football boots on asking if it’s time to go yet! We’ve had lots of kids go on to play for local teams, and a few that have been on the books of professional clubs. They all started with two left feet kicking a ball at Uplyme.
WHAT do you try to instil in the children?
It’s all about trying to be inclusive. It doesn’t matter if you can’t play or if you are blessed with great skill, being part of a group that values where you are is very important. I think the church background to the group leaders helps us to ensure we keep a “love thy neighbour” approach to what is happening. Everybody has something to offer.
YOU also run a business in Lyme Regis?
Yes, my wife and I own and run Pinhay House Care Home. We’ve been there for the past 27 years. Making space to do the football and other things in a “24 hour a day” business has been challenging, but I feel we manage it quite well.
WHAT do you do in your spare time?
I’ve been a member of Uplyme Church for 25 years and I lead the services there once a month. I’m on the Deanery Synod and the Diocesan synod as the churches representative for the parish and the vicar’s representative on the Bestic Trust that is progressing the building of the new school in Uplyme. Last year I helped set up, and now help run Seaton Memory Café for those in the local community who need help and support. It’s been going a year now, and we have 15-20 regular visitors each month.