A new Midlothian football club is giving local men who have fallen on hard times a chance to fall back in love with the beautiful game.
Former Arniston Rangers, Penicuik Athletic and Whitehill Welfare player Ninian Cassidy (62), is the man behind Alive and Kicking, a team set up last summer with funding from Midlothian and East Lothian Drug and Alcohol Partnership (MELDAP).
The club is made up of around 20 players, ranging from in their mid 20s up to their early 40s.
Ninian explained why he started Alive and Kicking, which is coming to the end of its funding.
He said: “I’m chairman of a group called Pink Ladies who look after woman with similar issues, and when I attended their events I was asked if there was anything like this for men, but there was nobody doing anything.
“So I thought it would be a good idea to put a team together and see the response. It’s good because you get them come in but obviously they pop back into other things, but a lot of them come back and enjoy it.
“I’m back in for another funding application this week.
“Hopefully we will get 40 weeks this time, it was 24 weeks funding last time.
“The money pays for the facilities, kit and insurance.
“I’m wanting to make it a permanent thing and build on this.”
Ninian has also been using his contacts in the game to give the team some treats.
He added: “I’m pally with [Hearts’ director of football] Craig Levein, so I asked him if we could get a behind-the-scenes tour of Tynecastle.
“Allan’s Coaches of Gorebridge made a great gesture. They put on luxury travel for free to take us to the stadium.
“It was like being the away team visiting Tynecastle for a match. We went in the players’ entrance, and were given a tour of the stadium, the whole place.
“It was an excellent experience for the lads.
“They were getting selfies with Craig and asking him questions. He was absolutely fantastic with them.
“That was an hour of his time which he gave up, late in the evening – it was a great gesture.
“We have also had John Robertson along to take them for a training session and a motivational speech.
“John Hughes also came along to do the same. It all helps.”
If you are interested in joining Alive and Kicking, call Ninian on 07957 845969.
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