FOREST Glade chairman Derrick Pearson believes the football club attaining the Football Association Develop-ment Status is a major milestone in its bid to provide football for everyone.

The Billericay-based club was presented with the award on Saturday by Ian Bent from Essex County FA following six months of work to satisfy the criteria laid down by the FA to be eligible for the award.

Now the club is looking to expand its activities to boost its work in schools and with disabled footballers.

“Obviously we are proud to have got the award,” said Mr Pearson. “The commitment that has gone in from members and the committee proves it has been a real team effort.

“I think it has given us a platform to take the club forward and ensure we can offer football to players from the age of five to seniors.

“We want to make sure we do it the right way by offering football for the community. It’s not about winning at all costs”

Up to 500 players, parents and club officials, both past and present, were at Forest Glade’s base in Barleylands Road for the presentation on Saturday morning.

Mr Pearson said he wanted the event to be held at the club’s home rather than a Football League club, as is traditional, because it underlined the community ethos that is paramount to the club.

Forest Glade can trace its roots back to 1992 when Mr Pearson helped coach school pupils. He eventually rented land at Barleylands Farm and Forest Glade FC was formed.

Numbers rapidly grew and Mr Pearson enlisted the help of friends and colleagues to help with the club.

Today the club has a membership of more than 300 male and female members and its latest venture is to provide football for the disabled through Forest Glade’s links with schools.

The club achieved Charter Standard status in 2003 and was named Essex FA Charter Standard Club of the year in 2009, which prompted officials to go for Development Status.