Tigers JFC London Sport Award

Tigers JFC Victorious at London Sport Awards Ceremony

Hornchurch Club Claim ‘Enhancing the Workforce’ Award

Tigers JFC claimed a prestigious ‘Enhancing the Workforce’ accolade when the category winners of the London Sport Awards 2021 were unveiled at a special ceremony at the historic Guildhall on Monday 6th December.

Ten winners were announced from a final shortlist comprising of community volunteers, grassroots teams, health and fitness clubs and organisations. Hornchurch-based Tigers were recognised for their work in coordinating and delivering the ‘Futures Programme’, supporting young people from within the club to become coaches, referees and football volunteers of the future.

Present at the Guildhall were Keith Di Palma (Chairman), Lisa Di Palma (Secretary), Mick Spooner (Vice-Chairman), Barbara Spooner (Treasurer), Robin Naish (Committee Member) and Terry Burke (Committee Member). “When our name was called out at the awards ceremony, that moment will stay with us for a very long time,” explained Keith.

“We are a community club who feel we need to give back to the players who have been playing since they were four years old and want to continue in football when they are near to the end of their youth footballing days. We have seen children turn into young, confident adults who can engage in conversation with adults and have fun at the same time.”

Futures Programme sessions take place every Saturday morning, and the participants are then able to referee on Sundays, where Tigers try to fit those appointments in around the youngsters’ own games. “This season, over 300 Tigers games have been played and we are happy to say 95% of those have been covered by referees” Keith proudly claims. “70% have been Tigers Futures.”

“Everybody benefits from the Futures Programme, from the young Cubs and Weetabix Wildcats players to the Futures themselves, who have become more confident. The teams benefit as they are getting either referees who are learning to be officials or qualified referees on their games.”

“We were made aware of the London Sport Awards ‘Enhancing the Workforce’ Category by Jake Ling and Nick Emery at the Essex County FA. After filling out a form back in May, they verified my answers… and the rest is history, with us picking-up the trophy! Many thanks go to the Tigers committee who backed the scheme from the very start, seven years ago.”

“Plus, our good friends at Trophyland of Hornchurch who have generously donated referee kits to all the Futures, as well as Sovereign Home Improvements for sponsoring training kit. Most importantly, we’re grateful to all the people who have been involved with making Tigers Futures the London Sport ‘Enhancing the Workforce’ 2021 winners!”

Find out more about the Tigers JFC Futures Programme by visiting the club's website. Further information on youth volunteering ideas in grassroots football can also be found in the 'Encouraging Youth Volunteering in Your Club' guidance below, by following @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.

encouraging youth volunteering in your club

Find out more about how you can embed youth volunteering in your club...

futures feedback

What the participants say...

Terry Claydon: “As a coach, the Futures Programme enables me to be able to put on fun sessions for our Cubs Section whilst helping the little ones develop. They are great role models, whilst learning new skills themselves.”

“As a dad of one of the Futures, I’m immensely proud of how far George has come. He is learning new skills, making good friends, earning his own money and has a great sense of belonging. His self-pride has also increased massively as a result. His confidence is also higher than it was.”

Bonnie Le Beau: “As both a manager who had a number of our team sign-up to the Futures Programme, and as a parent with both daughters joining over four years ago, it was impressive to watch their confidence, understanding and knowledge of the game grow.”

“A number of the team went on to become qualified referees, alongside helping with coaching younger players, which helped them, in turn, to become better players themselves. The programme has been pivotal in their personal development and growing into young adults who are giving back to the football community.”

Bev: “The Tigers Futures Programme is a fantastic idea, and its main features are that it helps and encourages older players to volunteer and give back to the club, whilst providing them with the ability to learn new skills and also gain new qualifications.”

“There have been so many qualified referees who have come through the programme. Plus, the fact they have all gained extra skills by learning different training techniques which they then pass on to the next generation. Tigers JFC feels like a family. They are very supportive, if needed, and there is always someone available to help when you have a query, question or problem.”

Amber Le Beau: “I have been lucky enough to be involved in coaching some great players, working alongside some fantastic senior coaches and also, during this time, I have become a qualified FA referee, refereeing many games.”

“The programme has greatly benefited me as an individual, and it has also benefited Tigers JFC to have a wealth of enthusiastic new coaches coming through the ranks, with fresh ideas and energy for the programme. In addition, I have also helped coaches and referees at both school and sixth form, so the benefits have filtered through to the wider community.”

Alfie Sedge: “The Tigers Futures Programme has helped me mature as a person and really allowed me to want to pursue ventures outside of football whilst staying in it after completing my referee course and having other opportunities, like coaching Tigers teams as well. I love Tigers - it’s an amazing club!”

Adam Williams: “Being a part of Futures helps teach patience, alongside the ability to remain calm in stressful situations. It shows younger people how to deal with, and accept, criticism whilst working well under pressure. It teaches them to be thorough and pay attention to detail as well as giving them the ability to work well with others. It develops ambition and a desire to succeed.”

Evie Doherty: “Alongside teaching me the skills to be a successful coach and referee, being a part of the Tigers Futures Programme has given me the opportunity to develop as a person by teaching me important life skills such as communication, how to stay strong under pressure and the important attributes of a good leader. The programme acts as big family for all involved.”

Laura Gray: “Tigers JFC have brought our family a huge amount of joy. The memories of days watching our little ones in their first ever matches, to Emily becoming a qualified referee and passing her knowledge and love of football over during coaching, is just fabulous. Both our children have gained many fantastic attributes due to being a part of the Tigers family.”

Caron Doherty: “I can't thank Tigers JFC enough for the opportunities their Futures Programme has given to Evie. She has become a qualified referee and loves coaching with the Girls’ Development Section on Saturday mornings. Her passion for football has grown so much since joining this programme, whilst also developing her confidence and self-belief.”

George Bryant: “The Tigers Futures Programme has helped massively with my confidence and teamwork skills. Working with new people has to be one of the best things to do at Tigers Cubs. It gives the young people a chance to build their confidence and learn how to work with different people, plus how to make decisions under pressure.”

Emily Gray: “I have benefitted immensely from the Tigers Futures Programme, developing vital skills and enjoying the process as I get increasingly involved. Whilst, at first, I found myself to be quite shy, needing reassurance with how to approach coaching, I now feel confident in leading groups and helping the younger generation to find a passion for a sport which brings so many together.”

Alfie Atkinson: “Tigers JFC have embedded into me exactly where I see my future career. Being part of the Tigers Futures Programme has given me all the confidence and knowledge to springboard me into a full-time career in football coaching. As I now prepare for life after schooling, I can look back and easily see what a fantastic family club this is, one I sense I will always be indebted to.”

Mark Shields: “It is such a pleasure to see the Futures learning and educating the younger players and passing on the knowledge they have gained from over the years. The people skills Christy has developed have benefitted him greatly. It is great to see him refereeing games and being confident doing it, knowing that he has the full support of the club if anything happens.”

Clare Dixon: “Lewis has completed his referee course and is actively refereeing games, alongside playing for a Tigers team. He loves going to help out at the Cubs’ training and his confidence and love of the game have increased. By offering this programme, it’s a great experience being able to support the next generation of players through the club.”

Julie Humphries: “Keira has only been part of the Futures Team for a few months but, in this short time, she said she feels so much more confident, and that this confidence is spreading to within other situations, like school and friendships.”

Michael Skinner: “My son, Owen, has been a part of this club since he was five years old, playing over 230 times for the badge and missing only a handful of games in ten years. For him, to be able to get the opportunity to give something back to the club and to be a part of the future of the club, is an absolute privilege and something I know he is very proud to be a part of.”

Tony Atkinson: “Being part of Futures gives our children’s generation the opportunity to learn, develop their skills and make new friends in a safe and welcoming environment.”

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