Ashley Ward

Huge Thanks for Six #CelebrateEssex Volunteer Winners

Local Football Heroes Profiled to Say Thank You

Appreciation is being shown to six local football volunteers after they won categories of our #CelebrateEssex competition, a popular Twitter contest which recognises the grassroots game’s unsung heroes.

#CelebrateEssex showcases personal stories from local legends, increasing their visibility as role models to engage new members and inspiring them to join the community. All volunteers are the lifeblood of football, putting in countless hours of their time so others can enjoy playing the game they love, and the winners of six 2020 categories were:

* February (Coach [Youth]): Stuart Keen (Tigers JFC)
* February (Coach [Adult]): Ashley Ward (White Roding Veterans FC)
* March (Footie Mum): Sindy Carmichael-Brown (Hashtag United FC)
* April (Treasurer): Gary Brooks (Rayleigh Town FC)
* June (Secretary): Charlie Mills (Great Bradfords FC)
* July (Chairperson): Jonathan Dalton (Tiptree Jobserve YFC)

The grassroots game needs more helpers, but it also needs to retain and recognise those already involved. Through this monthly competition, which involves a nomination process then a Twitter vote, #CelebrateEssex does just that, promoting ten different roles throughout the season.

Extended profiles of all these #CelebrateEssex winners will be shared on Facebook (search for ‘EssexFootball’). Browse the 'Volunteers' menu above to find out about new volunteering opportunities. You can also follow @EssexCountyFA on Twitter.

February (YOUTH Coach)

Stuart Keen (Tigers JFC)

Excellent coaches take ownership of the development of their players, who can then experience a variety of opportunities to learn the game. They provide an ideal, positive environment, using age-appropriate language. Youth coaches also have the added quality of communicating effectively with players’ parents. Here’s Stuart’s story…

“I coach reception, year one and year two girls on Saturday mornings at Bretons Outdoor Community Centre in Hornchurch. As a Girls Development Coach, my role is to create a safe, positive and fun environment for those attending the sessions in which they can learn and develop their football skills, build on their love of football and make new friends.”

“I always plan these with the emphasis on learning through having fun. I look at my session plans through the eyes of those that I am coaching. I set out with the goal that, at the end of each session, I’ve achieved the following: they have learnt something new; they are developing their football skills; they all left with a smile on their face and, most of all, they had fun.”

“It's great seeing the smiles on the players’ faces before, during and after the sessions finish. That, to me, is priceless. Knowing someone has turned-up at your session really shy and unsure of herself and, by the end of that first session, she can't wait for next week. You get a sense of pride in knowing you’ve played some part in their football journey.”
Stuart Keen
Ashley Ward
February (ADULT Coach)

Ashley Ward (White Roding Veterans FC)

Successful coaches allow their players to have the freedom to play and express themselves, supporting and encouraging them to develop independently, too. Here’s why Ashley won this #CelebrateEssex category for adult coaching…

“Coaching at grassroots level is much more than picking a team and barking orders on matchday, and I believe that it should be, too. I’ve worked to build a team off the field as much as on it, and then get them involved to organise training, raise money, improve facilities, sort laundry, provide matchday hospitality and offer a support network to each other for player welfare.”

“We try to do things differently such as yoga, vegetarian meals and more. I refer to “we” and the team, because no one coach, or coaching team, can achieve anything without the team. Football, for me, has always been more than just about winning. It provides an anchor to many individuals’ weeks. The lessons learned help shape lives for young and old, for future generations.”

“My advice is to create a team and an atmosphere which challenges the players, the opposition and yourself. Only when you are challenged can you learn, and only when you learn can you then achieve something you could not before. I don’t have all the answers, so I seek advice, read books, try new things - even if they are old formations - and ask for support.”
March (Footie Mum)

Sindy Carmichael-Brown (Hashtag United FC)

A ‘Footie Mum’ could be due a special mention for the support they offer their son or daughter before, during or after a game in any number of ways. This is why Sindy won her award…

“As a mother of three boys, and with a husband, all West Ham fans, football featured big time in our lives. When Spencer set-up his own club it was a family affair, with hubby being the physio, so I took on an active role in hospitality. The role of ‘meet, greet and make welcome’ is in my make-up. I love meeting people and I’m a real people person.”

“I mainly work at home games, looking after officials, and the visiting team’s committee, but we have fans from all over the world. They come to watch us so we prepare to meet them and introduce them to the big Hashtag family, team and management. At away games I mingle with crowds and introduce myself to fans who, perhaps, haven’t been to a home game.”

“I love learning about them. Hashtag is one big family - we all look out for each other. The team, management, fans and supporters all work together. I genuinely love them all. I do what I do because I love the club. It’s not a chore - it’s an honour. Anyone who loves the game and likes meeting people and socialising should give it a go.”
Sindy Carmichael-Brown
Gary Brooks
April (Treasurer)

Gary Brooks (Rayleigh Town FC)

Treasurers play a crucial role to ensure income exceeds, or at least matches, expenditure and that adequate records are kept. They help to cover essential costs which may, sometimes, involve fundraising activities, seeking sponsorship or applying for grants. Volunteer treasurers are literally worth their weight in gold. Here’s some background on Gary (on the right in the picture)…

“My Treasurer role mainly involves collecting subs on adult matchdays and then collating, paying and collecting player fines, paying all club bills, making sure we stick within a budget and setting that budget. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of grant applications, plus there are signing-on fees and dealing with council bookings for training pitches.”

“I undertake these tasks either at my home office or at the club on matchdays. I try to get everything done on that same day, otherwise you will lose track. My football committee - Peter Clarke,  Del Lamont, Dave Barker and Dave Mills - always support me with what I do, and what I’m trying to do, for the club.”

“If you have a passion for football, and want to see change within your club, get involved. To make a difference you have to be willing to roll your sleeves up and be part of it as change happens from within, not by commentating on the sidelines. My hat goes off to anyone who is willing to muck in.”
June (Secretary)

Charlie Mills (Great Bradfords FC)

The secretary is one of the most important roles in a club or league, and is the main point of contact with a 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. Read more about Charlie’s story…

"My auntie founded Great Bradfords FC in 1978, so we’d always been at Bradfords and, when I turned 16, I took my Level One and started coaching a team. Now, at 26, I’ve had my current team for seven years after my previous team folded when they were Under 10s. I took on the role of Secretary when we sadly lost Maureen. In her memory, I had to take it on... Bradfords is huge for us all!"

"As Secretary, I support the managers with admin, correspond with leagues and just really ensure we are organised, be it kit orders or venue hire. It’s fairly easy because the club has the most incredibly dedicated group of volunteers all supporting each other constantly. The Chairperson leads the club well and we all know what is needed. It’s that simple for us!"

"I do what I do because I love football. I want the players - boys, girls, men and women - to have somewhere to play. I also do it to promote the equality that we have fought so hard for at Great Bradfords FC. Football is for everyone and it’s so important that we play an active part in that. To anyone wanting to get involved, I say don’t hesitate... do it! "
Charlie Mills
Jonathan Dalton
July (Chairperson)

Jonathan Dalton (Tiptree Jobserve YFC)

The chairperson oversees the running of a club or league, ensuring it is operating efficiently and is managed appropriately. They will head-up meetings and provide leadership in all areas, such as tournaments etc. At the heart of a well-run club is an organised and passionate chairperson. This is why Jonathan won his award…

“The main part of the chairman's role is leadership and direction for the club, including PR, mixed with being a focal point for the day-to-day running of the club and any issues which arise. I mainly try and set a clear vision for the future to continually develop the club, using fundraising and volunteer resource and accessing funds from The FA, and others, to improve facilities.”

“We’ve built the club from a small village club with poor facilities, to one with excellent pitches, facilities and teams from Under 7s to adults. Our goal is to provide the safest and best possible environment for players of all abilities to participate in sport. Over the years, you see how much it means to the kids, regardless of ability.”

“I found myself managing kids who had other issues outside of football and always worked with them to provide an outlet and saw it was more than just winning games. As a team of volunteers, we put in a huge effort to develop facilities for the local area and we, not just me, want to leave a sustainable legacy in place for the future years.”

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