Southampton FC captain Jack Stephens writes a massage to Ryde Under 14s team

A recently established team of young footballers under the age of 14 on the Isle of Wight has received a significant boost, courtesy of Jack Stephens, the captain of Southampton FC. The team, known as Ryde Saints Rovers, had been going through a challenging phase with a series of difficult results.

Rovers came into existence at the end of the previous season due to an increased number of players participating in training sessions. The newly appointed coach, Spike Oatley, made the decision to split the under-14 players into two teams to accommodate the growing interest. Spike explained, “Within just six months, our player count more than doubled, going from 18 players registered for a single team to a total of 40 players across the two teams,” as reported by the County Press.

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Spike assumed the role of manager for one of the teams, the Rangers, while Glen Pridham, a parent of one of the players, took charge of the Rovers side. However, being a new team with limited experience, they faced challenges in achieving positive results on the field.

In an effort to boost the players’ confidence, Eddie Sherwin, another parent, reached out to Southampton FC. In his letter, he asked if there was anything the club could do to inspire and uplift the spirits of this group of young players.

To everyone’s surprise, they received a response from Southampton FC’s captain, Jack Stephens. His message acknowledged the difficulties the team had faced so far and offered words of encouragement: “We understand that your season hasn’t been the easiest… They say that nothing worth having ever comes easily, and that can be said especially of playing football… We would like to congratulate Ryde Saints Rovers for your perseverance and spirit. You may not have won many games, but you have won respect and admiration for showing that you are not quitters, but fighters who never give up.”

Spike and Glen expressed their immense pride in the young players and their gratitude to Jack Stephens and the club for their support. They believed that these words of encouragement would provide the much-needed morale boost to the players as they continued their football journey.

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