Wigan Cosmos is the football club with a difference, aiming to connect people of all ages, football enthusiasts or not. Based at St. Johns Street Playing Fields, Abram, John Pendlebury offers some insight into what they do at the club.
“We started in 2004 from humble beginnings, playing at other football clubs in Wigan, now we are coming up to our 25th anniversary.
“We very much wanted our own football pitch and eventually we got the site.
“The grass was knee high and people told us there’s no way we could turn it into pitches, once we cut the grass down, there were more issues such as drainage problems that we are still having.
“We did a Crowdfunder to support the work, and the FA have put us in an advanced pitch programme to get the pitches in a better state.
“The pitches aren’t just for our club, we hire them out for other clubs to use so it’s important that the pitches are playable.”
The club offers football training for all groups of people
“We have girls and boys football, aged 5-11, and there is also walking football for over 35’s, the oldest player is 70 something! They’re the most competitive.
“We have an adult amateur team, they pay a sign on fee for the season which is £30, if they are unemployed or in education it is £15, we didn’t want barriers to prevent people from playing.
“Some of the younger lads can’t afford to pay it, or their parents can’t, so we say if you come and work on the pitches we can knock that off.
“This is really beneficial to the lads and their parents at home.”
Wigan Cosmos isn’t just about the players, the coaches learn a lot and can progress too
“It’s not just the kids that progress, it’s the coaches as well.
“To see girls in college progress and lead sessions is fantastic, we want them to get their FA badges but of course, everything comes with a cost.”
The football club see’s the value and benefits of being a part of a team
“The kids love it, we have been told they are counting down to the day they’re here playing football.
“In lockdown, some of the over 50s were really struggling with their mental health, some of them have played sport all their lives and then it suddenly stopped, that’s a massive hole in their lives, and we strive to get as many people playing as possible.
“In school, they teach you how to pass exams, they don’t teach any passion for the subject, we are trying to give people that passion so that they’ve got it for life, if you dream big you can become a professional or get a career in football.
“It’s so important to build bonds, you then have mates for life, it’s a family more than anything.
More than just football
“At Wigan Cosmos there is the sports side of things, but a lot of people get involved in other things like maintaining the pitch.
“Volunteers from college have come to do their volunteering hours, other volunteers who have no interest in football come along.
“We want to provide lots of avenues for kids to go into, it could be anything from working on the grounds to looking at stats.
“We are now also working with the community to create a gardening club, we want to repopulate the area with wildlife.
“We are putting together a sustainability plan, and are trying to ban single-use plastics. Our aim is to get every player a free water bottle so there’s no need for plastic bottles.
“We want bug hotels and bird boxes, to reconnect with nature, and also grow our own fruit and veg. Anyone from the community can get involved.”
The future for Wigan Cosmos
“We are working with the FA on a clubhouse and a cafe.
“We would like walking, cycling and running clubs, coffee mornings and mother and toddler groups, we want people to use it as a community hub.
“Eventually we would like an indoor pitch and we can rent that out too.
“We are going to run football and fizz to inspire parents to get involved in coaching, we can then set up more teams.
“We are always looking for volunteers, even for things like social media and creating content or interviews, if someone has a skill, l we can pretty much offer them anything.
“One day we would like a quiet room for people to study, or some meeting rooms. We are very ambitious.
“And of course, we are always looking for funding and sponsors.”
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