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Friday Freebie: Time for the volunteers to receive more help
Mistakes happen but why not eradicate what you can
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Now once again the idea for this week’s piece came from listening to a podcast, this time being the long running Non League Show with Tim Fuell, out every Friday on all good podcast platforms. The volunteer is a long time staple of the game at grassroots level, without them it’s quite simple we wouldn’t be here discussing the finer points of football within the pyramid.
I’ve been there myself, a stint as Secretary and Treasurer at a Step 6 club a few years ago. We didn’t have a huge committee of people; however they were a good bunch and we got by week by week. That was only about six years ago I think and the game has moved on every year within that time.
But within that, have the amount of tasks been reduced or is the system in some cases still operating back in the dark ages? I’m not convinced that this great lifeline of the non-league game are getting all the help they need.
The most common problem we seem to get year on year is clubs being removed from competitions for fielding ineligible players. Having done the secretaries job myself it’s a thankless task not just in terms of player registrations but plenty more besides. It becomes a full time job alongside the one that pays the balls, how some have managed to do it for so many years I really don’t know, tip my hat to them.
This ineligible player rule, it’s completely correct of course. But, and here is the but, a majority come from players moving clubs or even moving areas with a different FA in control but we seem unable to for suspensions and other such misdemeanours to move with the player wherever they end up.
I can remember during my time though even signing on a player who wasn’t attached to another club took it’s time, but then that registration secretary at the league was also a volunteer, time only stretches so far.
It then comes down to the poor club secretary and his or her due diligence to find out whether the new man can indeed make his debut in the coming week. As Tim pointed out on his show you almost need to be retired and retired only to be able to give the role your full attention.
Granted there will always be one to slip through the net, but should there be? Players changing names will always be an issue, there might be a way around that but that’s for an IT guy to work out. Surely in 2023 when a player transfers from wherever in the country that record should follow him around everywhere and eliminate the possibility of clubs falling foul of the rule.
It's a testament and credit to all the volunteers in every club, not just the secretary but many others including grounds people, those who operate the turnstiles, the programme editor, tea hut staff serving you food and drink.
Some of those have more tools to help their jobs become easier and less time consuming, that should stretch across the game. Player registrations are now an online operation, it surely can’t be that difficult to keep everyone up to date with suspended players as well?
I know also we can all point to human error as well, that’s part and parcel of life but also deemed as no excuse. Surely we should be able to eradicate as much error as we can especially given the technology available within the game?
What do you think? Do you have a volunteer role at a non-league football club? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.