Regional accolades in the 2017 FA Community Awards

Essex grassroots football has cause to celebrate following news that Maldon Saints YFC coach James Cole and the Brentwood Community Football Alliance have received regional accolades in the 2017 FA Community Awards.

Recently local volunteers were recognised by the Essex County FA through the county stage of the awards, presented by McDonald’s, and winners were selected for making a real difference to the game. Now, following a regional selection process, James and the Alliance have received further appreciation. James has been named Regional Young Volunteer of the Year, with the Alliance claiming the Regional FA Charter Standard League category.

At just 19 years of age, James has been described as “a true inspiration to many people within Maldon Saints FC.” Today the club has an adult team, 24 mini-soccer and youth teams, a girls’ team and a Soccability programme for disabled footballers. Membership is in excess of 300 and the club is held in high regard by both children and adults alike. As part of his responsibilities, James has devised a coaching framework for the adult coaching staff to work within.

Meanwhile the Brentwood Community Football Alliance, a newly-awarded FA Charter Standard League, was set-up in 2015 to provide a development platform for players, team and clubs. The league has since grown from strength to strength, ensuring opportunities are available to all, whether it be bespoke Futsal fixtures, to league-specific courses, to friendly matches.

Essex set an all-time record for the number of nominations collected by any county this year, with the goal of rewarding the clubs, coaches and volunteers who keep the national game alive. Nominees could be from any walk of life who have gone above and beyond in the name of football. For 2017, the county winners were:

* Best Inclusive Project: SheCanPlay
* Coach of the Year: Marc Stephen (Chelmsford City Girls FC and Meadow Youth FC)
* FA Charter Standard Club: Uplands Rangers FC
* FA Charter Standard Community Club: Hawkwell Athletic FC
* FA Charter Standard Development Club: Collier Row FC
* Outstanding Contribution to Community Football: Craig Leverington (Hawkwell Athletic FC)
* Young Volunteer of the Year: James Cole (Maldon Saints YFC)
* FA Charter Standard League: Brentwood Community Football Alliance

Regional Young Volunteer of the Year: James Cole (Maldon Saints YFC)

Whilst continuing to undertake full time education – James is working towards obtaining a sports science degree – he also works tirelessly to provide development opportunities to local children within the community. James already holds an FA Level 2 coaching qualification, including Youth Modules, and he is currently the club’s Head Coach.

He leads presentations and development sessions in order to improve and provide consistency within the club. At the heart of what he does, James always ensures the main objective is to provide the children with a relaxed environment in which they are able to thrive and fulfil their full potential. Outside of his community club commitments, James has worked with local academies and has recently acquired a coaching role with Chelsea FC.

At a time where young people within society often have negative press, James exhibits all the correct behaviours. He acts with integrity, is committed, approachable, trustworthy, motivational and a role model for the children. They love being coached by James and the volunteer coaching staff are comfortable, willing and happy to work alongside him.

Regional FA Charter Standard League: Brentwood Community Football Alliance

The league support coaches’ development and provide children with a range of playing opportunities. The partnerships they’ve already created is fantastic, working with the likes of Premier League club, West Ham United FC. The committee are development-minded, and work exceptionally well with the Essex County FA, including with Football Development Officers to gain funding insight or ideas of how to progress.

They have close connections with the Coach Education Department to ensure the league has bespoke courses to support their coaches and players alike. The Alliance listen to their member clubs and adjust and adapt based on their views, thoughts and opinions in-line with a youth development plan, collectively supporting the development of the players. Their commitment, drive and dedication to continually develop is phenomenal.