Grassroots football ‘in good hands’
PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 June 2015
Outgoing chairman happy with progress
Former Essex FA chairman Alec Berry believes local grassroots football is “in good hands” as he reflected on his three years in charge which came to a natural end at the recent Annual General Meeting in Chelmsford.
Berry spent 12 years on the board, serving for three years as chairman, and now assumes a different position as Essex’s FA Representative from July, whilst remaining on the Executive Council.
Rainham’s Wayne Deller was elected as new chairman by the council to begin his term after the AGM on Thursday June 4.
“Overall, it’s been fun,” said Berry. “There are a lot of very good people who I’ve met. There was a good turnout at the AGM. They’re all hard-working and they’re all volunteers who do a fantastic job.
“They get nothing out of it apart from taking part in the game, and it’s great to see their success. I think the game’s in good hands.”
Berry urged local clubs and leagues to interact more with their local Essex FA Football Development Officers, adding: “The Development Team work extremely hard. They’ve got some fantastic successes.
“This year we’ve seen a lot more of the Development Officers going out to adult leagues, and that is working extremely well.
“The FA Charter Standard in my own league is now nearly there, at long last, which will be really good. They’re a hard-working team. It’s a shame that certain areas of the county don’t communicate with the Development Officers in the way they should do. That’s something that needs to be addressed.”
Berry also had praise for the Governance Team at the County Office who have faced some major challenges whilst ushering in the new FA Whole Game System.
He said: “The other side, the Governance Team, are also extremely hard-working and have had a very difficult year with Whole Game, and the previous year.
“They are probably, in the country, one of the most up-to-date and model users of that system because they’ve gone through the trials and tribulations of it.
“They’ve questioned it, they’ve tested it to make it break, and it has broken. But, because they know it inside out, they’re probably the best operators in the whole country.
“I think that’s commendable to them. That team should take the credit for what they’ve done. Cups & Competitions has also run extremely well.
“The website and all the numbers on Twitter - and I’m not on Twitter - and the hits on the website, which I read on a regular basis to see all the articles, are really, really good.
“Referees, welfare, the whole way across. It’s a great team in the office and it’s a pleasure coming in there - it’s something that I’m actually going to miss.”
But Berry was able to look back fondly on some of the triumphs on Essex’s football fields during his tenure, whilst also appreciating future challenges.
He added: “Vets football has expanded, Futsal’s coming in more and more. It’s disappointing that women’s football has stagnated, which is a shame when you compare it to nationally, where it’s growing. Hopefully lots of people will watch the Women’s World Cup on television.
“The FA Women’s Cup Final on August 1 at Wembley will also be a great occasion. That could make people feel more positive.
“In Essex we’ve got to concentrate on trying to develop it more and more. The downside is youth football, for me. This year the attitude of parents and some of the teams at our cup finals has been appalling.
“It’s going to be difficult [moving forward], with the changes that are coming about. We see cutbacks from Government level right the way down into football. Councils are not going to get the funding to run the parks, which is going to be exceedingly difficult.
2We have seen a reduction in our funding from The FA which will impact on our resources, but for the time being we can absorb the reduction.
“We’re fortunate that we’ve got enough finance to cover that - but, really and truthfully, this is the start of the cutbacks rather than the end. “It’s going to get a bit worse but I think, if we all pull together, communicate and work together as a county, rather than as individuals, I think we can move and progress and get the best for football in Essex.”
To find out more about the structure of the Essex FA’s Executive Council, or to find out how to contact your local Football Development Officer, visit wessexfa.com.
Information is also shared on Twitter @EssexCountyFA and by searching for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.
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