The Kent FA will be shining the spotlight on volunteers as part of two weeks of celebrations aimed to reward and recruit volunteers.
These articles feature a wealth of information, guidance and advice from some of Kent’s leading volunteers.
Today’s feature is on Ken Brooke, CEO of the Kent Youth League.
What does your role involve?
I oversee a large Committee that covers 172 teams from ages Under-13 through to Under-18 who play high quality football on a Sunday across South East London and all of Kent. We have over 3,000 players registered with the League. It is a huge responsibility that we thrive on.
How did you get into volunteering?
I ran a youth team from Under-10 to Under-17 which spent its last 3 years in the Kent Youth League representing Welling United. The then Chief Executive Colin Boswell rang me when he heard that I was no longer going to coach and offered me a role on the League's Committee as a website manager. I was given responsibility to develop the League's website, and also I was offered the chance to manage the Kent FA's Representative team.
Why did you get involve?
I have a real passion for football. I am a lifelong Crystal Palace fan, and when I was lucky enough to have 2 boys who loved football I began to think that maybe I could coach and manage and so ran a team for friends of my youngest son. I loved every second of it and with my friend Peter Townsend we had great times together. What is great is that my lads now manage an adult side on a Sunday and I sponsor their team! Ian (my youngest) is also on the League Committee.
Do you have a favourite memory from volunteering?
That is an easy one. Whilst managing the Kent FA Representative team, we won the FA County Youth Cup in 2010. Kent FA had never won this in 65 years before we did, and have not won it since. The sense of achievement with my coaches Gary Farr and Simon Balsdon was huge, and we won the Final at Priestfield. Managing the Representative teams at Under-16 and Under-18 for Kent FA for 9 season made me very proud. Many of the players we selected have gone on to play in the semi-professional and professional game. Great times.
How has volunteering benefitted you?
I have made many new friends in the world of youth football. I have met and coached many young men who I still keep in contact with now. 2 of my original team who came to me at 8 years old, I have helped in my day job (mortgage adviser) to help them buy property. It also gives me a real buzz every Sunday to get out (in all weathers), and watch games in the League.
Why would you encourage others to volunteer in football?
The football family is a phrase you will hear a lot. In essence all volunteers share the same feelings, have times when they wonder why they volunteered but then something or someone comes along to make it all worthwhile. Given we are about to raise money for Demelza Childrens Hospice makes you realise that through the football family we can all come together and make a difference. It is very rewarding.
What advice would you give to new volunteers?
1. Enjoy what you volunteer to do.
2. Don't commit to something that realistically you don't have the time to do well.
3. Treat people like you would want to be treated yourself. Common courtesy costs nothing.
4. Try to make a difference.
5. You must have passion for the wonderful game of football.
6. Be prepared to go the extra yard - you will stand out from the crowd.
7. Age is no barrier. We desperately need young people volunteering which is why we support the initiatives of the Kent FA Youth Council.
8. If you volunteer do everything to the best of your ability.
9. Don't be afraid to ask.
10. Use the telephone! We rely too much on emails which can be misread!
Get your club and league involved
If you’re a member of a local football club or league, then you’ll know how valuable volunteers are.
#KentFAThanksU is your chance to celebrate and show your appreciation for those volunteers that make the game in your area possible for so many. We have launched a toolkit full of useful resources so clubs and leagues can make the most of the campaign by clicking here.
For more details
For more details of how your club and league can get involved please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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