iCanVolunteer: Rebecca Alderson
What does your role entail?
As a club secretary my role is mostly done in the background.
The ladies do all the hard work on the field I just ensure they have the right structure set up so they can do that.
Closed season for most is a rest, spend time doing things you don’t normally get to do in the season, but for a secretary it’s the opposite.
I ensure all the league paper work is completed, the affiliation process is completed, the ladies have the insurance that’s needed, players are signed and registered, coaches and officials have all the training needed and that when 2pm on the first Sunday of the season comes the ladies can kick off and enjoy there football.
Match days for me are ensuring team sheets are completed and handed to the officials on time, making sure spectators are in the ground and ready, along with making sure the little mascots we have are set and ready to walk out with their idols.
Once the whistle goes, I can sit back and enjoy the game for 20 minutes, before doing the match day raffles, which bring in much needed revenue for the club.
Drawing that at half time, along with making sure the mascots get their penalty shootout on the pitch.
I can then sit back and enjoy the first 30 minutes of the second half, before making sure the post-match refreshments for the players are sorted and that I can pay the officials once the game has finished.
I then need to do all the admin with the team sheets making sure the league have the correct copy on time.
Then my Sunday nights are spent preparing for the following weeks game, sending out match information to the opposition along with the referees.
If there have been any yellow/red cards shown ensuring the paperwork is completed for that.
How did you get involved?
I’ve always loved football, growing up on the streets of Middlesbrough football was everything, Jumpers for goalposts and whoever’s ball it was picked the teams.
Football was my escape from a lot of things in life.
I first got into coaching football when my brother started his own team, I used to help referee his games and generally help running the team.
I then decided that there wasn’t enough offering for girls’ football in the club I was at, so decided to start up a team, 1 team quickly became 2 teams and the girls section went from strength to strength.
I then remember going to watch Brighouse Town vs Everton in the FA cup, my girls team were mascots and thats what got me hooked, the atmosphere was different, everyone was happy, no one was swearing at players, not like in the men’s game, you could just go watch football, and the standard was amazing.
English & Irish international players on the pitch at little old Brighouse Town, I remember the atmosphere when Annabelle Cass scored her goal from outside the box, something I’ve seen her do many times since, but none felt like that one.
I then started coming to more games, and they needed help on the gate, I offered my help, and it went from there really.
Volunteers in grassroots are what keep clubs going, I could help so why not.
The following season I got a little more involved and then I was asked to become club secretary and never looked back.
Why do you give up your free time to volunteer?
Volunteers make clubs, without them clubs just simply wouldn’t be able survive. If I could help in any way I was always going to.
Football is my happy place and helping people out along the way is just why I do it.
From a young age football has been an escape from life, for the 90 minutes or however long the game is nothing else matters.
Suffering with mental health problems I found that being at football and being around my football family just allowed me to feel a little more ‘normal’.
Volunteering allows me to have a purpose, seeing how it makes other people’s life just that little bit easier and making me feel that little bit better for that amount of time is the reason I do it.
What do you enjoy about the role?
My football family, the girls, the officials, and the fans were all one big family.
What has been the highlight of your volunteering experience?
Hard one because there has been so many on and off the field.
We played Sunderland away in the FA cup, the result wasn’t pretty, but the atmosphere was amazing and the team spirit on the way back was amazing.
On the field my top highlight must be the county cup win against Guiseley who were in the division above at the time.
Listening to our tiny towners signing at the side of the pitch, and just the grit and determination from the girls to get the win.
Off the pitch I have to say winning Volunteer of the year in 2019. It was a great honour to be chosen when there are so many amazing volunteers out there.
What has been the biggest challenge during your time as a volunteer?
Covid, I think it’s been frustrating for everyone.
Working in a healthcare setting and then as part of the vaccination roll out has been hard, but the hardest thing was not having that game day feeling each week.
As I mentioned football helps with my mental health so not been able to do that one thing that helped was tough.
We had Zoom quiz’s etc but nothing beats that game day feeling.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about volunteering in football?
Do it, you will not regret it. The rewards are endless.