Tigers JFC’s Keith Di Palma has urged potential volunteers to “stop thinking about it and just jump straight in and get involved” after being named as our #CelebrateEssex ‘Chairperson’ competition winner.
#CelebrateEssex promotes inspirational personal volunteer stories, motivating new faces and growing the grassroots community. Once nominations closed in July, a select group of chairpersons were chosen for a Twitter poll via @EssexCountyFA to identify the monthly winner who’d receive a prize and extra public plaudits. Keith won the vote in front of many strong challengers.
Keith became Chairperson of Tigers JFC in 2003. He explains how this is “virtually a full time role,” with 55 teams at the club, though he praises the superb committee who help out whenever needed. On Saturday mornings you will always see Keith at Tigers’ very successful ‘Cubs’ for Reception and Year One children and their Girls’ Development Section.
On Sundays, Keith and wife Lisa (Club Secretary) try to go out to their home venues and get to see as many teams as possible. He reports: “Tigers’ committee is by far the most supportive group of people I have had the fortune to meet. The main backbone of the club is Lisa, who keeps everything in order and is always supportive in anything we try to do at the club.”
The role of a chairperson is to oversee the running of a club or league, ensuring it is operating efficiently and is managed appropriately. They head-up club or league meetings and provide leadership in all areas, such as club tournaments etc.
Keith claims his main task of late has been attempting to get suitable facilities for the club at Bretons Outdoor Centre. He’s excited with some recent progress on this, relaying: “Hopefully, after several years of hard work, something is looking good for the future, but I have to say it has been a frustrating and long time coming that a club like Tigers JFC deserves.”
“Tigers is not full of superstars, we are a community club who value each one as our ‘stars’ playing in our famous yellow and black stripes! On Presentation Days, every single player receives an award of high quality as they have played all season in different and awkward weathers and played with a smile on their faces, walking out before kick-off.”
Despite the challenges, Keith says he finds volunteering very rewarding. He summarises: “I wouldn’t be in the role if I didn’t enjoy every aspect of it. It’s been a major part of my life for the last 20 years. If you’re thinking of becoming a grassroots football volunteer, stop thinking about it and just jump straight in and get involved!”
“The best thing you can ever get out of volunteering is the result of teaching your knowledge to any individual willing to listen and then watch them flourish into budding, enthusiastic football players. Most importantly, by volunteering you are gaining a network of new friends who will live your dreams with you, watching their children grow up along the way.”
Find out more about how to volunteer in Essex football in the 'Volunteers' menu above. September is the month of the ‘Secretary’ on Twitter @EssexCountyFA and information is also shared on Facebook by searching for ‘EssexFootball’.