AN UNDER 7s football team in Barnsley temporarily side lined the ball to strike up pen pal friendships with the town’s care home residents.
The North Gawber U7s have been writing to residents at Deangate Care Home, Towngate, Mapplewell, as part of an intergenerational initiative.
Despite an eight-decade age gap, the children and residents have been sharing their interests, as well as exchanging drawings and cards.
The initiative was launched by the care home’s activities coordinator, Rachael Addy, whose son, six-year-old Edwin, plays for the team.
She spoke to the team’s coach and managers, as well as the players’ parents, about the idea and then started matching the children up with residents so they would each have a pen pal.
Jenson Wilde, 7, was paired with resident John Morris, 92, who shares a name with the youngster’s grandad.
In his letter, Jenson handwrote: “Dear John, I hope you are feeling well? My name is Jenson John and I am 7 years old. I have the same middle name as your first name.
“I love to play football and ride my bike. I play for North Gawber. I hear you like to read and played golf. I enjoy reading books too. My favourite book is “When I grow up I’m going to play for Barnsley”.”
After receiving the letter, an emotional John said: “I’m overwhelmed the little lad had thought of me. I was an avid drawer so I’m going to do a special drawing for Jenson.”
Rachael said: “I was astonished by how enthusiastic the young boys were in doing this. Sisters of the players, including three-year-old Myla, also did letters and pictures, so that every one of our residents would have a pen pal.
“The boys also dedicated their last match to the residents and can’t wait to visit the home in their football kit in future.
“The residents are happily writing letters and doing drawings for the children. I can’t thank them enough for bringing such light and love to the residents.”