Chairman’s reflections on the year
Thursday 26 June 2014By ESFA Office
Dave Woollaston, ESFA Chairman
This past year has been very busy and productive for the ESFA. Having big time sponsors like Sony PlayStation and Danone have helped tremendously and all the competitions they have been involved with have been thoroughly enjoyed by all. There has been an increase in games played once again this year and all seems to go unnoticed by the press in their search for a scapegoat for the senior team’s problems. How I wish that they would attend some of our events where the number of smiling children and adults clearly shows that there is an awful lot to enjoy away from the professional game.
Since my previous year as Chairman in 2001-2 the role has changed incredibly. So much so that I really do now believe that it would be an impossible task for a serving teacher. The number of days I have spent on ESFA business over the last five months reads; January- 17, February -16, March -18, April -22 and May -21. It is truly a labour of love!
Some of the tasks during the year have proved to be really challenging for us. The most difficult has undoubtedly been the problem of the 9v9 goal post funding from the Football Association. Reaction has been mixed throughout the country but my most refreshing comment heard from a teacher in my own county was, “Of course we’ve got them. We’ve had two years to budget for them.” And that from a school which is not well off.
Our development plan initiated by Neil Pont enters its final year 2014/15 and good progress has been made over this last twelve months. Some of the items still outstanding have been due to staff jobs changing and roles being lost. This is an issue that we will have to address urgently.
There is still much to do and the difficulties being faced by our members must not be overlooked. It is very easy for those in some of our larger associations to not understand the real problems facing our smaller districts and counties where the loss of one person can mean the end of that association. To which end we must all turn our attention to the problem of recruitment, are there any young teachers out there who are not snowed under by paperwork and threats of inspection? Can we get them involved and show them the positive aspects of working for our associations within the ESFA?
I have been very grateful for the warm welcomes I have received in my travels around the country and appreciate all the work that people put into schools football. More at home I really have to give our staff in the office a really big thanks for all of their efforts. Sometimes it is not easy to cope with the problems they face, especially when you have an agitated teacher on the end of a telephone, but they do incredibly well to stay calm and resolve disputes. The work of our competitions department is outstanding and the final product truly remarkable. Spending the four days with them at Reading FC for 15 National Finals showed just how much effort they put in. Our relationship with the FA, Premier League and Football League continues to improve and I must thank John Read for his work in these important areas. Our U15 Girls and U18 Boys International management teams and their players deserve praise for their achievements this year both on and off the pitch. It certainly has been a good year for them.
This year we also adopted a partner charity, BeChildCancerAware. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed towards their work and hope that we will be able to raise their profile even more in schools over the next season.
My apologies for not writing more articles more often. I have felt that I would only be repeating the information which was regularly published on the website anyhow and time was always in short supply.
Finally, I never ceased to be amazed that when arriving home at stupid o’clock from various parts of the country, sometimes after days away, there is always a warm welcome and often a hearty meal. Trousers and ESFA shirts were always clean and ironed ready for me to disappear the next day and a list of people wanting to speak to me is next to the telephone. I have to give special thanks to my understanding, tolerant and supportive wife, Jan without whom this last year would have been quite impossible. My best wishes go to my successor, Mike Spinks, and I wish him all the best for the forthcoming year.
ESFA Chairman 2013-14