Paul Brooker

Essex Football Volunteer Winners Receive Huge Praise

Thanks for Local #CelebrateEssex Grassroots Heroes

A popular Twitter competition which recognises the grassroots game’s unsung heroes, #CelebrateEssex, is profiling local football volunteers who emerged victorious from the Essex County FA’s 2020/21 categories.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of football, putting in countless hours of their time so others can enjoy playing the game they love. #CelebrateEssex showcases personal stories from local legends, increasing their visibility as role models to inspire newcomers to join the community. More helpers are needed, but football 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. These are the profiles of four of last campaign’s worthy winners:

February (Coach [Adult]): Ben Adams (Corinthians FC)

Excellent coaches take ownership of the development of their players, who can experience a variety of opportunities to learn the game in a positive environment. Successful coaches allow their players to have the freedom to play and express themselves, supporting and encouraging them to develop independently, too. Here’s Ben’s story…

“All of my adult football has been linked to Corinthians FC. I worked as a professional coach for several years, which allowed me to visit different countries and work with so many different players. Coaching involves helping a player to be the best they can be, to set them challenges and to educate them using the knowledge I have gained over the years.”

“Enjoying what you do is the key to any good learning and it’s important to create a fun but educational environment. I currently help to coach throughout the club at Corinthians FC: mainly the Men's First Team, the Ladies' Team and the Under 17s. I loved my time helping to get the new Under 8s team up and running as you can see quick progress.”

“Many coaches have helped me over the years, and you never stop learning. I mostly work with Richard Brenkley, who is a brilliant coach. We work together so well and the ideas flow. We currently manage the Southend & Basildon Sunday League representative side together. Other coaches I work with are Daniel Mann, Richard Sawyer, Dave Barlow, Sam Ayres and Chris Stoneham.”

“Coaching is so rewarding. Seeing the progression makes me feel proud of what I do. I'd urge anyone who has a love for any sport, especially football, to get involved and learn. Create your own style and be confident. Yes, it can be hard work, but there is no better feeling when everything works out.”

March (Footie Mum): Dee Weare (Weare 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. They could help to make sure their ‘star player’ gets to training safely, enjoys participating in matches and is supported to do their best, providing encouragement… win, lose or draw. This is Dee’s profile…

“I first got involved in football 25 years ago, when my husband was playing grassroots football. He went on to play for Queens Park Rangers and Bristol Rovers, where I supported him in his journey. I was later involved in children's football for a team my husband was manager of.”

“We both decided to start Weare United because many of our children's team were over 16 and had nowhere to continue with their football. I try to welcome opposing teams to our club and offer sandwiches after our home games, as I know both teams are starving after a match.”

“To be honest, I've been around football for a very long time and, as of late, I've been fighting Cancer. The distraction of games, and the overwhelming support of the footballing community, have truly got me through a difficult time. Football, to me, is more than just a game. We are a huge family.”

April (Treasurer): Paul Brooker (pictured above, Valley Green YFC)

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 more about Paul…

“After a series of brain operations, I was forced to retire from work aged 30. Three years later, when my son began to play, there was the opportunity to get involved and help the club. I originally started just helping to coach the development squad, where my son was, and I’ve continued to help run my son's team. They're going into the Under 11s age group this season.”

“My involvement progressed from being a normal committee member to becoming Treasurer quite quickly. Predominately, my role involves liaising with the managers, ensuring subs are paid on time. I set the signing-on fees at the start of each season, as well as budgets. I produce monthly 'profit and loss' reports, ensuring the club remains viable.”

“And, of course, I pay the bills! Being a senior committee member, you are not always the most popular person in the club. Some weeks require a lot of hours but, ultimately, it’s a very rewarding role, particularly when you turn-up on a Saturday or Sunday morning and you see the playing field full of kids playing with smiles on their faces.”

“At Valley Green, we have a strong committee who work hard for the good of the club. We’ve had a particularly hard 18 months, with the lockdowns, but, as a committee, we worked hard to re-open as safely as possible.”

June (Chairperson): David Bird (Academy Soccer FC)

A chairperson oversees the running of a club or league, ensuring it is operating efficiently and is managed appropriately. They 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 David’s profile…

“My background in football stems from playing from nine years of age in schools football at district level in Dagenham and club football until around the age of 30. This was following my son’s own playing from when he was eight - he played at a high standard until 30-something - and helping him set-up Academy Soccer YFC, becoming chairman in 2011.”

“My son, Shane, is the leading light for the club. He is a coach and I help in any way I can, along with committee members and helpers, and I chair meetings. Having experience in the building industry means I can undertake maintenance work at the club, along with running the refreshment bar at weekends with my wife, Christine, who makes a mean sausage or bacon sandwich!”

“I love serving the younger players with their sweets and drinks and interacting with them. I am thankful to every player, parent and committee member at the club. But, specifically, Shane, his wife Michelle - who is the Club Secretary and works tirelessly - and, of course, my wife Christine.”

“I naturally love football and the fact that we have our own ground, with pitches for six-year-olds up to vets, makes all the difference. I'm so proud of Shane in what he has instigated, which keeps me involved at the age of 73. Like most things, you only get out what you put in.”

Profiles of all these #CelebrateEssex winners will be shared on Facebook (search for ‘EssexFootball’). Nominations in the first category of the 2021/22 #CelebrateEssex awards for ‘Young Volunteers’ will begin this Thursday (9th September). Browse the 'Volunteers' menu above to find out about new volunteering opportunities. You can also follow @EssexCountyFA on Twitter.


Congratulations to all nominees and winners!

February (Coach [Adult]): Ben Adams (Corinthians FC)

Ben Adams

March (Footie Mum): Dee Weare (Weare United FC)

Dee Weare

June (Chairperson): David Bird (Academy Soccer FC)

David Bird

The winners of the ten categories in 2020/21 were:

* September (Young Volunteer): Tommy Magill and Ria Lee (Ridgeway Rovers FC)
* October (Welfare Officer): Maxine Ford (Hashtag United YFC)
* November (Footie Dad): Ian Kendle (Chelmsford City Ladies FC)
* December (Football Family): The Hunwicks (Chadwell Heath Spartans FC)
* January (Media Manager): Lewis Murphy and Aaron Moore (Harlow Town Ladies FC)
* February (Coach [Youth]): Rob Woodcock (Trinity YFC)
* February (Coach [Adult]): Ben Adams (Corinthians FC)
* March (Footie Mum): Dee Weare (Weare United FC)
* April (Treasurer): Paul Brooker (Valley Green YFC)
* May (Secretary): Christian Waugh (Ridgeway Rovers FC)
* June (Chairperson): David Bird (Academy Soccer FC)

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