The East Riding FA Unsung Hero of the Month award recognizes those individuals in our county who are going above and beyond to create a fun, safe, and inclusive environment for people to play and enjoy football.
We know that grassroots football in our county is supported by an amazing group of volunteers who put their heart and soul into supporting the game for the benefit of others. This award is our way of recognizing and celebrating your efforts.
The winner of this month’s award is East Riding County Football League Secretary Roger Smith.
Roger joined the league back in in 1991 initially as Assistant Referee’s Appointment Secretary, before taking on the role full time in 1993. A position he held until the summer of 2005 when he was proudly appointed to the role of Hon General League Secretary. Not only has Roger volunteered his time on the league committee but he has also refereed for over 30 years and served as a club chairman for over 40 years. Roger currently combines he role as league secretary with being an FA referee match observer.
When asked why Roger got involved with the East Riding County Football League he commented; "I started to offer my services to the league as a way of getting ready to be still involved with football when my playing / active refereeing days were over. I take immense pride and satisfaction of knowing that the league has maintained its relevance and has developed greatly over the last 25 years, especially when many other adult leagues in the area have either folded or are struggling. To provide well structured league football for clubs throughout the whole of the geographical East Riding gives me a great feeling of achievement.2
When asked what challenges he faces at the start of each season Roger said; "The biggest challenge at the beginning of every season is to ensure that we as a league, both maintain and recruit new and existing clubs, and whilst we always have a number of casualties, the league over the last ten seasons has at least maintained an average of six or seven divisions. Experience gained over the years within the league ensures that we achieve balanced divisions where possible."
The past 18 months have been particularly challenging for many people involved in Grassroots Football with the regions leagues having to adapt and evolve. Roger said; "We have had a steady trickle of clubs wishing to call games off due to players testing positive for Covid-19 symptoms . Each request is being taken on merit and teams are monitored."
Roger added; "Any club, it is felt, using Covid-19 postponement's as an excuse for player unavailability will soon be spotted and dealt with accordingly. During the summer it was felt that there was a great enthusiasm to return to normal once lockdown had ended, but I wonder if this was misplaced a little and is one of the contributory factors to why some clubs have struggled or disbanded. The one positive that came from the enforced lockdowns was that we all, or nearly all, learnt how to use and feel comfortable with Zoom / Team meetings which will stand the league in good stead should any problems occur down the line."
When asked how it felt to be named the East Riding FA Unsung Hero of the Month Roger commented; "I am very proud to have received the award, but I must stress, that with out the help and support of a very dedicated committee, this could not have been achieved, so I feel as though I have accepted this on all their behalf as well."
If know someone who deserves recognition for their contribution to grassroots football then please click here and nominate them for next months award.