Youth football team from Manea pay their respects to principal sponsor who died unexpectedly in June

GRASSROOTS football began across Fenland last weekend but for one youth team it was a very sombre start to their campaign.

Manea United Strikers Under-14s paid their respects with a minute’s silence for one of the team’s principal sponsors, Christiane Middleton, who died unexpectedly in June this year.

The woman, from Elm, was a well-known trauma therapist and had decided to donate funds to the side despite having no affiliation to the club.

Her widow, Paul Middleton, said: “Christiane had provided funds towards a complete set of new kit for the boys.

“She was impressed by the enthusiasm of the coach Paul Deaves who runs the side and has increased the membership this year to 18 boys.”

The club now hopes to play a memorial match at the end of each season in Mrs Middleton’s memory and manager Paul Deaves praised both sides for their mature actions during the tribute.

He said: “The FA strive to educate all involved in football about the importance of skills needed for life ahead.

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“The respect campaign is paramount within the FA. This match showed the respect for the late Christiane Middleton by both teams, Manea United Strikers and Isleham Youth.

“Christiane was a very caring and thoughtful person who was keen to give something back to the local community.”

Mrs Middleton’s donation went towards the new kit that will be worn by the Under-14s this season and will carry the logo of Jaks Graphics, a business in Manea.

Julia Keil of Jaks Graphics said: “Having just started a new business venture in graphic art work for vehicle’s and clothing, I was very proud to be part of the sponsorship for these young men.

“I had not met Christiane, but agreed with her legend. Keeping children occupied and off the streets means a happy life for everyone involved.”

Manea United Strikers lost the match 5-1.

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