Chigwell FC’s Jamie Wright has claimed grassroots football club administrators “are all winners in our own right” after securing victory in the Essex County FA’s #CelebrateEssex ‘Secretary’ competition category via the @EssexCountyFA Twitter account.
#CelebrateEssex promotes inspirational volunteer stories, motivating new faces and growing the grassroots community. Once nominations closed in September, a select group of secretaries were chosen for a Twitter poll to identify the monthly winner who’d receive a prize and extra public plaudits. Jamie won the vote in front of many strong challengers.
A secretary is one of the most important roles in a club or league, and is the main point of contact with the County FA, team managers and other clubs or leagues. The secretary will look after the administrative duties and make vital off-pitch arrangements which help players to enjoy games on the field. Jamie became Chigwell Secretary around five years ago.
He began by attending monthly Echo Junior League meetings when the club’s previous Secretary was unable to make them, and he claims it “seemed like a natural progression” to take over when they stepped down. “The Club Secretary role waits for no one,” he says. “It’s a position which has a stream of calls, E-Mails, enquiries and conversations.”
Jamie is also FA Level 1 and 2 qualified and still plays for the Over-45s Veterans Team whilst managing the Women’s Team and coaching Chigwell’s Under 13s (Spitfires), Under 16s (Blues) and Girls. Combine that with a role on the Echo Junior League Committee as a Club Representative, it’s easy to see how much time he spends supporting the club on a regular basis.
Despite these challenges, he believes the emergence of technology has played a part in making the role simpler, continuing: “We now hold bi-monthly manager meetings. These were monthly until this season when the use of social media enabled us to communicate throughout the club.”
“They’re very valuable to see how the team managers are doing, keeping our club up-to-date with courses and qualifications. It’s in these meetings that we relay information which comes from the four leagues our teams play in and discuss the way forward and how to implement them.”
Jamie pays tribute to the team he has around him to help him with his secretarial duties: “I have support from like-minded members of Chigwell FC. To get great results out of something you must put in the time, dedication and small sacrifices.”
“Understanding, being approachable and impartial and being a good listener and communicator are all essential qualities you need. I have a fantastic group of committee and club members who, like a machine, have to work together to go in the same direction, particularly my wife, Kellie, and my three lads. The support from all involved is second to none.”
“I love what I do and get great satisfaction on a Sunday evening knowing that I’ve been a part of getting 26 matches completed over a weekend, and I’m already thinking about the following week. When I first joined, Chigwell were a youth club with seven teams. Over the past few years we have grown in size to 22.”
“We were then successful in attaining the FA Charter Standard Club award and are looking into Development Club status. With the club establishing women’s and men’s teams, plus two veterans sides and we’re looking to establish a girls’ section, we decided to drop the suffix of “Boys” from our name to make us become more inclusive.”
“I’d like to thank the committee and club members for giving me the opportunity to be involved in a fantastic club who are celebrating their 50th anniversary this season and to all the tweeters who voted for me, plus all the secretaries who ran in the poll. We are all winners in our own right.”
Jamie also has words of encouragement for anyone thinking of becoming a volunteer: “We were all in your shoes at one point. Starting with a small in a role in a club where you can build on your own experiences to help others will be invaluable. It’s most unlikely that you’ll have all the right answers to hand, but a good support network within your club, league and County and national FAs will.”
Find out more about how to volunteer in Essex football, browse the 'Volunteers' menu above. You can also follow @EssexCountyFA on Twitter, whilst additional information is shared on Facebook by searching for ‘EssexFootball’.