Local businesses have thrown their support behind a group of young footballers to help keep their team afloat amid “unbelievable” costs.

Many quickly answered a call by James Christie, who began coaching Neilston Youth Academy 2009s in the summer, to sponsor individual players for the year for £50 a head.

The 57-year-old had the bright idea after seeing Junior teams employ a similar approach to drum up funds and ease the financial burden of running a team.

A life-long Barrhead resident and former footballer who played his whole career locally, James used his contacts to set the wheels in motion and was overwhelmed by the response.

“The team’s funds were quite low,” said James, who is one of five coaches involved with the side.

“We have a Facebook page and I opened up an Instagram page, which has had quite a bit of traction and made up player profiles.

“If the players win man of the match or they score a goal, the business get constant advertising and we also do a match sponsor and training sponsor so they are getting plenty of traction through that every week.

“Within a week, we raised £1,000. It’s been pretty seamless and I would love to thank them all.”

Barrhead News:

Those backing the team include James’ wife’s business Deborah Christie Luxury Holidays and Honeymoons, takeaway L’arco, Love 2 Tan, Fighting Fit Personal Training, Beautiform Medical Aesthetics Clinic, Ger Lynagh, Magical Smiles, On the Up Events, Volt Group Scotland, George Cuthbert Builders, Wella Professionals, KLX Tuning and Diagnostics, Choccamocca Sandwich Bar and Deli, and MacPhees Sandwich Bar and Deli. 

Band Emperors of Rome have also sponsored the side, who play in the Paisley Johnstone and District League Youth Football League Third Division and currently have 19 players.

After ploughing through a hit and miss start to the season, minus a goalkeeper, the team has picked up form recently and are looking to move up the table.

Indeed, they head into this weekend’s game on a three competitive game unbeaten streak. 

For James the financial support means they can turn their attention to more important matters such as improving the team further.

“I’ve not played football for 15 years but the costs of running a team are unbelievable,” added James who as a young boy played for Arthurlie Juniors and then at a decent level at amateurs with Barrhead teams Arthurlie United and Barrhead YM.

“I think we are like £45 for a referee for a game, then you’ve got the pitch, so I think on a weekly basis you could be about £200 depending on what you’re doing.

“The money will basically be going to that. The parents pay a monthly subscription but it’s not enough to keep the club running and obviously during these times you can’t put that up or ask for too much either because all the kids are from different backgrounds.

“It’s been great because a £1,000 has just taken a whole lot of pressure off and is letting us concentrate on trying to get new members into the team to make the team stronger.”

If any other local businesses would like to get involved in supporting the team, they are asked to email jamesc2266@hotmail.co.uk or send a message via the team’s Facebook page.