Stuart (my husband) and I enjoy football though don’t go along to lots of matches, in fact we can both count on one hand the number of times we’ve been to a league game – one of which was at AFC Bournemouth but pre-Callum. That said, having recently moved to Bournemouth, Stuart has adopted them as his chosen team and I have been keeping an interest (not wanting to completely give up the batten for Southampton FC).
We did attempt to take Callum to a local football match where we used to live, about a year ago. Unfortunately, he was clearly too young and unwilling to sit still long enough to watch a whole 90 minutes so we soon found ourselves playing tag team to walk up and down pitch-side trying trying to keep him entertained.
When I was presented with the opportunity to attend AFC Bournemouth for their Family Football Festival and to watch them play against Bury to review it on behalf of Netmums, I jumped at the chance hoping that Callum was now of an age that his attention span may just about stretch to the final whistle, helped along by all the excitement and distractions that a Family Football Festival may bring. The idea behind the Festival is to introduce new families to live football to show that it can be an enjoyable event for the whole family and similar events are taking place at 39 other npower football league matches across the country in October and November – find out more about it on their Facebook page. This seemed like the perfect time to reintroduce Callum to football in the hope that, should it be a success, we could go to more football matches in the future – and maybe, next time, I’d get to see Southampton play.
The fun opened at Seward Stadium at 12noon with a 3pm kick off. We got there early (too early) so took the opportunity to check out the club shop to purchase a Cherries scarf for Callum and then headed to the Legends bar for a spot of lunch.
Initially, I was a little disappointed at the number of activities/stalls on offer as I had expected something maybe a bit more spectacular but, actually, it was probably about right for the crowd. There were a couple of charity stalls selling raffle tickets and a spot the ball competition, a balloon modeller (is that what they’re called?), a surfboard ride (you know the ones – where they gradually increase the speed until you fall off in a mass of arms and legs, bucking bronco style), a game where you can see how fast you can kick a football, an inflatable/bouncy obstacle course thing, singing from the Funky Little Choir Company and a face-painter.
Callum’s earlier grumpy mood faded into history as his eyes lit up and wanted to try it all. We steered him away from the kicking a football game – I am sure they would have let him have a go but there was already a small queue of older boys trying out their skills so thought it would be better to lead Callum to a more 3 year old appropriate activity. That also meant bypassing the surf board but Callum was easily persuaded away when he saw the inflatable assault course - he kicked off his shoes immediately and the next we saw of him was him disappearing in a jump down the other side of the slide at the other end.
After a few runs we took him to get his face painted. The woman doing the face painting was very good and offered a wide selection of choices displayed on a catalogue of photos ranging from monsters to princesses to team themed faces which is what Callum chose with absolutely no influence from us of course…ahem (see photos). There were meant to be 2 face painters apparently but the second person couldn’t make it (due to illness) which was a shame as she was very busy making every face a work of art, which did mean quite a wait in between each face. She was worth waiting for, however, as she was very good.
Next stop was to get a balloon hat! The balloon modeller was brilliant, making balloon staffs and hats in a multitude of designs and colours - I even saw a monkey & banana hat and a fish caught on a fishing rod. We got a cool, very tall hat for Callum in the team colours which meant we were less likely to lose him in the crowd, mainly because I was running inches behind him apologising to all the adults he kept taking out with the top of his hat.
Fans (both children and adults) had been encouraged to come in fancy dress with a prize for the winner. Knowing Callum wouldn’t last 5 minutes in any fancy dress outfit, we ducked out of this one but Callum took a shine to a poor woman dressed as Elmo who kindly posed for a photo. Cherry Bear, the Club’s mascot was also present wondering around the stalls waving to young fans and posing for photos but Callum wasn’t so convinced.
Once inside the stadium, we were seated in the Family Stand. It was lovely to see so many families and such a mix of men, women, boys and girls in attendance filling up the stand. There were signs requesting supporters watch their language while in the family stand with a text number if someone was upset by language of another fan. This really gave the impression that the stadium values families. Everyone was impeccably behaved and created a pleasant environment for children. Although, there was one comical moment when a father hurriedly covered the mouth of his young son as he started to call out “The Ref’s a …” (allowing other adult supporters to fill in the blank with a word of their choice).
Callum was quite fidgety at the start of the game but, with the help of a clementine in the first half, a hot dog at half time and an apple in the second half (the apples are given out free for under 16s by the club), he made it through the game and I think quite enjoyed it – although disappointed at the end that he didn’t get to actually play ‘kickball’ himself. I would recommend taking lots of food/snacks/drinks with you if you are planning to take a 3 year old to the football to keep them occupied but would take your own as I did think the food available at the stands inside the ground, was a little on the pricey side.
Overall, it was an enjoyable day, only being let down by Bournemouth being beaten 2-1 by Bury. I would definitely take Callum back to the club for another match (armed with lots of food). I’m a little envious, reading other people’s reviews of the Family Football Festivals that took place at other clubs as there were no tours, half-time entertainment, mascot races etc for us but AFC Bournemouth is only a little club and Callum had a great time which is what is important.
- Reserved, free parking space in front of the stadium (thank you)
- Elmo (for Callum)
- Balloon modeller
- Face painter
- Price of food/drink in the ground
- Not getting to meet any footballers (but that’s just me )
- Bournemouth losing 2-1
A few photos of our day:
I am a member of the Netmums Parent Bloggers Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team from our database to review products and brands on their behalf. I am paid an expenses fee to cover my time but Netmums have no editorial control whatsoever about what I blog about. Being a member of the Netmums Blogging Network means that I can 'opt in' to try out products and brands and get my expenses covered but that I retain full editorial integrity.