An amateur sports club in Wrexham, which has previously been supported by Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds, is fundraising “to keep the club alive”.
The Wrexham sports club’s appeal for funds grabbed the attention of Reynolds – who co-owns the Welsh side Wrexham AFC with fellow actor Rob McElhenney – earlier in the year.
Reynolds donated £1,600 for new kits back in March, but the not-for-profit club needs additional funding to continue operating.
Chairman, co-founder and manager at FC United of Wrexham, Andrew Ruscoe, 36, told the PA news agency that the club was established in 2020 with the long-term goal of reaching the Uefa Futsal Champions League and the second tier of Welsh football.
With more than 80 members, the club manages a senior men’s football team which competes in the North East Wales League Championship Division, as well as male, female and youth futsal teams.
Mr Ruscoe said that the Reynolds donation was “mind blowing” and “so unexpected”.
The club’s fundraising efforts had been struggling for attention, so Mr Ruscoe messaged the star on Twitter and asked him to retweet their fundraising page.
After Reynolds donated to the cause, Mr Ruscoe said: “Everyone was buzzing. The kids in the club were jumping for joy. It was brilliant. The parents were buzzing and they’re still buzzing now, actually.”
The new purple kits feature a logo of superhero Deadpool, played by Reynolds, on the arm to honour the actor’s contribution and the A-lister recently sent a photo of himself wearing the club shirt to Mr Ruscoe.
However, the club remains in need of support, and is aiming to raise £14,072 based on yearly operational costs.
As well as giving Wrexham residents an opportunity to play futsal and football, the Welsh club provides further support to those with learning needs, employability support needs and mental health issues.
Wrexham-born Mr Ruscoe said an awareness of the disadvantages faced by the city and a desire to help those in need lies at the heart of the club.
He added that the club has helped members get into coaching courses to learn leadership skills and helped people with poor mental health get the support they need.
He said: “We’ve had so many successes of people progressing, and progression for us is anything from getting employment, getting into academy football, or even something as little as being able to dribble a ball.
“We can’t do that if we don’t exist, and if we don’t exist, I think there’s going to be a big hole in the Wrexham community.”
Mr Ruscoe explained: “As a club, and especially from my moral point of view, we want to try and make sure that no young person, or anyone for that matter, has a financial barrier to sport or a financial barrier to developing their transferable skills.”
The club has set up a GoFundMe and raised almost £2,000 thus far, which will go towards renting the club space, paying for new equipment, competition fees, and covering the membership fee for those who are struggling financially.
Futsal, a football-based game played on a hard court, can be a costly sport because the game is played indoors, Mr Ruscoe explained, with the cost of running the club amounting to upwards of £14,000 a year.
He said: “It’s not like football, where many clubs can go out and train on a park field for six months of the year and not incur any costs. We’re constantly incurring costs.
“So what we’re trying to do, by doing this donation page, is help the people we’re supporting and to keep the club alive by asking people to support us.”
The club will also explore other ways of raising the necessary funds to continue operating.
Mr Ruscoe said: “We’re continuing to grow yearly and to be honest with you, the way we’ve grown in three years is just incredible but I think it just shows a massive need for futsal in the community.
“I’m a believer that you dig deep and you stick together and you keep putting work ethic into what you’re doing and things slowly come.”
To find out more about Mr Ruscoe’s fundraiser, visit www.gofundme.com/f/fc-united-of-wrexham.