The chairman of Haverhill Rovers has said that the club’s success in winning the Community Club of the Year at both county and regional level has focused the organisation to continue growing and developing.
Peter Betts revealed the club were ‘delighted’ by the awards and the recognition of the hard work of everyone involved, and were even more determined to live up to the expectation.
His comments follow the club’s success at the recent Suffolk FA awards night, where they received both Community Club of the Year and Coach of the Year awards.
But the club also got the nod as the region’s best community club, fighting off competition from across the East Midlands and East of England.
Betts said: “We didn’t expect it, despite the hard work and efforts we made.
“But it’s great to see it come to fruition, and for everyone involved in the club getting recognition for their hard work.
“The day to day stuff of our support staff, all done behind the scenes, is a big part of why we won.
“Their commitment is so important, nearly all volunteers too.
“It really is a community club, we offer football for everyone, and have become so much more than just the first team.”
He continued: “We have just embarked on another five-year plan, with the same goals as before — to continue to increase participation and boost the health benefits of football on a community.
“Football tackles things like obesity as well as making people happier, and the youth section is also important.
“There’s less anti-social behaviour in the area — community football is great for a town in so many ways.
“And the award has just lifted everyone, we know we’re doing the right thing and doing it well.”
The FA said that Rovers scooped the award in recognition of making significant strides last season in increasing participation and creating opportunities for people within the local area.
The club’s focus on growing women’s football at all age levels, as well as boosting the youth football section and talent development, was also a factor.
The club won a coaching bursary, a plaque and a certificate to help them continue their work.
“Our youth section has grown to five or six hundred kids,” Betts said.
“And we expect our first team to be role models for this, as well as taking time to teach them too.
“There are expectations for them to conduct themselves right and show the youngsters how to behave when you’re at the top of the tree.”
According to Betts, the club’s facilities — with changing rooms, a bar and kitchen and a 3G all-weather pitch — was the cause of the development.
The space had allowed more opportunities to grow, particularly in girls’ football.
The club worked closely with Suffolk FA throughout last season to deliver a series of school cluster festivals for Year 4 and 5 girls, in addition to hosting their own Girls’ PDC session, to increase participation within the under represented group.
The club hosted a regional Girls’ ACC Festival and continue to promote female football .
In terms of talent development, they run a Boys’ PDC to support better players and also offer bespoke support for their coaching workforce through funding in-house qualifications and CPD events.
Betts said that Jason Clarke’s Coach of the Year award was tied in with the club’s community success.
“Jason has given up so much of his time to coaching,” he said.
“His commitment has been invaluable to us, as he’s continually built on his skills and become a better and better coach.”