How it all began
In the dark, drizzle and gloom, a young man carefully dribbles a football between plastic cones before neatly passing to his teammate.
The coach offers encouragement and fine tuning while the next player takes his turn.
Beamish Dynamos was founded 12 years ago by teacher Bobby Coltman, for young people with disabilities to experience a high standard of football coaching and the chance to play in tournaments.
Unbelievably, the first session was poorly attended. But the group soon took off and now supports 40 young people with their football ambitions.
Making a difference
In 2015, team members travelled to the Special Olympics World Summer Games and returned with two gold medals. And the accolades don’t stop there: in March, players scooped a gold in the world games at Abu Dhabi and recently returned from Tel Aviv where they trained with Maccabi – Tel Aviv’s Foundation disability teams.
And while they’ve had great success and many awards, the point of the team runs much deeper. The players are intensely dedicated to the sport and turn up to train in sub-zero temperatures.
Bobby said: “One of the lads came back the other day and said it had taken two days to get his coat dried out after playing in the rain. They are really committed, and we really encourage players who are. We offer quality coaching and the chance to play matches and the focus is very much on taking it seriously and developing.”
The club, which trains weekly at North Durham Academy, in Stanley, reaches young people who would otherwise be excluded from football. Some of the club athletes have been rejected by mainstream teams or had negative experiences when trying to join in.
Those same players are now flourishing with the Beamish Dynamos and making their mark on the sport with the support of their teammates.
With thanks to you
Securing funding through the innovative Stanley Community Fund has been a major score for the club.
Volunteer Tom Coltman said: “Can I say a big thank you from our club for the help you are giving us? It has come at a critical time for us and will allow us to move forward in 2020 and beyond.”
At the end of the weekly training session, the players left together, laughing and joking about I’m A Celebrity and the Newcastle score.
Clearly this is a team that exists way beyond the pitch.