During Volunteers' Week, we spoke to Gorleston Ranger’s Club Secretary, Karen Morley, about what her role entails and why she thinks more people should volunteer in football.
Norfolk FA’s Football Development Officer Anna Larkins asked Karen Morley some questions on her experience as a Club Secretary for Gorleston Rangers FC.
Karen Morley, Club Secretary of Gorleston Rangers
How long have you been volunteering with Gorleston Rangers?
"I have been a volunteer for around 4 years. My daughters were introduced to football around 5 years ago, and my enthusiasm for the game and volunteering went from there.
"I have just taken on the role of Club Secretary, which I must admit has been daunting and a steep learning curve so far, but once I get more into the role, I am sure it will become second nature. Before I became Club Secretary, I was responsible for the Charter Standard side of ensuring that the managers had up to date qualifications, which is extremely important when the club and managers are responsible for their players safety and wellbeing, which is of paramount importance."
What does your role as a Club Secretary involve?
"There are too many responsibilities to individually list, but an overview is to affiliate and register teams with the county FA and leagues and keep in regular contact with county officials, to keep and maintain accurate club records, to monitor the clubs status and action any fines and sanctions, to be actively involved in our annual tournament and presentation night, and club management which comprises of maintaining regular contact with team managers, assist the Chairman at managers meetings and set agendas and report minutes, assist with and attend home fixtures and to regularly liaise with other committee members."
How important do you think volunteers within football are?
"Volunteers play such a crucial part within grassroots football (as with many other organisations), as they give their time up to allow young people to play and develop their football and social skills. The committee members and team managers wouldn’t be able to hold matches without the parents initially volunteering their time to take their children to matches, and the parents/volunteers who turn up on a windy rainy day to help get the goals out and set the pitches up are just as important as the tea person who gets out of bed to make bacon sandwiches and copious amounts of hot drinks."
Are there rewards to volunteering?
"Most grassroots volunteers start volunteering when they have a child/children playing for a club. Some stay till their children/young adults leave at U16, and then there are those who continue to volunteer at the club for many years, and this is the case with most of our committee members at GRFC. I must say that the time, commitment, and enthusiasm that they have given GRFC over the past years is commendable, as the time they give is literally hours a week. For me, that shows that volunteering is exceptionally rewarding."
Why should others volunteer their time with local clubs and leagues?
"If someone is thinking of volunteering for their grassroots club – go for it! You don’t have to commit to doing something for years on end or every week, just that “do you need any help” makes such a difference, especially on those busy weekends and events like tournaments and presentation evenings as the planning of these events take many hours, and those extra pair of hands and enthusiasm ensures that things go smoothly and that everyone can take time out at the event to stand still and look around at an amazing event that has been created for these players’ enjoyment, meaning and purpose.
"It’s amazing when you first volunteer as it’s often with your own child in mind with no expectations, but then the grassroots football has a way of hooking and drawing you in to the players, teams and club itself with pride, enjoyment and the hope that GRFC is here to stay for many years to come."
What advice would you give to someone looking to volunteer in football?
"If I were to offer any advice about volunteering in a grassroots football club, it would be to go in with an open mind and see where the volunteering takes you. I never thought I would be in this position when I stared volunteering, but now is the right time for me and my family, and I am really looking forward to the challenges and rewards that being part of GRFC will take me on."
Anna Larkins, Norfolk FA’s Club Development Officer (Clubs and Leagues) said:
"We are so grateful for the number of hours a Club or League Secretary dedicates to their role. They are undoubtedly one of the most important roles within a club or league and football in Norfolk quite simply wouldn’t continue if it wasn’t for the work these volunteers do. They are the first point of contact for us as a County FA, so we really get to see up close the work that they do and it certainly doesn’t go unnoticed.”