Well…its only right that I begin by saying welcome to the AFC Wembley Blog!
I won’t delve into what to expect, but would instead warn you to expect the unexpected. This will act as an undiluted platform for our community to discuss matters related to and surrounding our world of football. Stay tuned…
I’ll begin by saying for decades there has been a negative stigma following grassroots football clubs around the country. Unprofessionalism, amateur, the bottom, beginners etc. are all words/phrases that have labelled our industry. However growing up I witnessed something different.
My dad took me to my first official training session when I was 7 years old. Arsenal Soccer School. There I met my first football, John “Surname unknown”. At this time in my life I was identified as a potential high grading student with low confidence. Football changed this instantly. From 7 years old onwards I partook in a sport that developed me physically and mentally. Boosting my confidence, natural abilities/capabilities and general interest in seeing myself achieve more. I didn’t care about facilities, crowds, stadiums etc. I just enjoyed playing with my friends. Fortunately I was exposed to quality coaching which was the anchor for my personal growth. I witnessed close friends of mine use football as an outlet to free their minds of stresses of home life, football intervened when other friends were on the edge of negatives ways of life. To put it blunt, football saved a lot of us.
I say this to say, now that I’m older and in different roles within football, I understand the power of Grassroots football, and hope that my colleagues around the country come to the realisation sooner than later. Whilst money is flooding the professional football world, the real power lies in the grassroots industry. Football works as a conveyer belt:
Young Kid joins grassroots club > young kid develops > professional club needs players > scouts young kid from grassroots club > young kid turns pro
If volunteers at grassroots clubs stop volunteering and developing, the conveyer belt stops. Professional clubs needs grassroots clubs, not the other way around. When I came to this realisation I worked differently knowing that the real power was in our hands.
If you run a grassroots club, coach, part of the parent committee etc I would use this blog post encourage you to act as if you are the head and not the tail. Because that’s what you are. The football industry needs you more than anything money can buy. Keep pushing.