Back in 2013 when my Son had just started school, I found myself looking for activities for him to take part in, and clubs for him to join. I think all parents are pretty much the same here… They start off with intentions of their child have one or two hobbies, they’ll meet new friends, it’ll be lovely! In reality… you overcommit, you wind up having a ridiculous schedule of pick ups and drop offs, washing uniforms/kits and being coaxed into volunteering along the way. It’s okay, it’s just the start of a 12-year commitment to your kids. It’ll be over soon, I promise.
When Matthew was in Reception class he came home with a flyer in his school bag advertising a local grassroots football club, we knew one or two others that had recently joined, so my Husband (ex) and I decided that we’d give it a go. Saturday mornings in the Forest of Bowland would become our norm, we’d brave the weather (it was always horrid) and we’d drag our 3 year old with us. Poor Erin, she’s a victim in all of this really. Often cold, bored and invariably soaked to the skin due to the rain, but always fuelled with sweets.. so, you know, it was fine.
When the coach pulled me to one side to let me know the ‘rules’ I felt an immediate need to help. The Rules – The coach for Year 1 is to coach new recruits currently in Reception, and when they move to playing league games in Year 2 they have to recruit a new coach for the team below. This was the one that Matthew was currently in. What happens if a new coach isn’t recruited? The team folds and they can’t train. It’s that simple.
I spent a fair bit of time talking to all the Mums and Dads, somebody needed to step up, but guess what? Nobody wanted to. I don’t blame then really, it’s a big commitment. A really big commitment… So, before I could stop myself, I’d stepped forward to save the team from folding and I approached the Committee at the club. The Club were great, they paid for me to obtain my Level 1 FA coaching qualifications, as well as First Aid. I’ll remember that training course forever. It was Jan/Feb time, it was freezing! I turned up in my kit unable to feel my toes and spent many an hour trying out my newly gained skills. I made lots of notes and turned up to the sessions with prompt cards, or drills that I wanted to practice. I was the only woman.
Clutching my certificates, and just enough equipment to run a session I was the proud new coach for Year 1. A few months passed and heading into playing actual games shortly… I did my duty and recruited a new coach for the reception children. We were on our own, a new team, ready to start playing for a league! We were a popular club, and naturally I had too many players wanting to join. There wasn’t anything I could do really, so I started a second team. Yes, I’m now running two teams!! Oh, I did I mention that I’m now the Club Secretary and I’ve split from my husband? Indeed these were testing times. Luckily my ex and I get on well, and he offered to obtain his licence to coach and take one of the teams.
I’m not joking when I say that these were very stressful times. 2013-2017. Time passed, and I was able to get support from other parents, and eventually I was able to step down as coach and secretary. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted!
Matthew now plays for 2 teams, at two totally different clubs, and I’ve been really enjoying cheering him on from the sidelines. I always get to training and matches nice and early in case the coaches need any help, and Erin still gets dragged along, poor love. One of the clubs more recently put a shout out for volunteers.. there are lots of positions that they’re trying to fill, from social media, web, schools liaison, to club welfare officer. So here I am, looking at the plea for help and having spent a few years in a relatively relaxed state. One evening I reply to the secretary offering to take on a small role (school liaison), I’m thanked, and the job is mine! A few email exchanges and I’m starting to really enjoy the feeling of being in a football family again… which leads me on to offering more support. So, after a few weeks and an AGM to wait for… I’ve been appointed the Club Welfare Officer! A much bigger role than the one I originally took (here we go again). I’m just waiting to see when the Lancashire FA can start with their courses again, as they’ve been impacted by COVID – 19. Who knows where this is taking me, and how long I’ll be in this role, I guess we wait and see.
I think the important thing to note here is, It’s in my blood to volunteer. I simply can’t help it! I want to support children and young people, I want to support adults that give up their time to support my children. I am grateful to them, and I’m grateful to Every. Single. Volunteer out there. Thank you!