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Update from Ollie Williams – Chief Operating Officer

Ollie Williams
An update on our progress so far this season as well as our plans moving forward.

As we welcome in 2024, I thought I would write an update on our progress so far this season as well as our plans moving forward.

Our Operational Plan for 2023/24 is on track

Each season we deliver a comprehensive Operational Plan, with 166 individual entries for season 2023/24. The plan covers provision for over 15,000 players in a variety of formats, coach education courses, the recruitment, retention and development of more than 400 referees, safeguarding all children and adults at risk, running 18 County Cups and governing the game with effective disciplinary processes. All of this is in addition to our day-to-day customer service for leagues, clubs and participants.

Our Development Team are working to increase and sustain provision for everyone who wants to participate in the game as a player, coach, referee or volunteer. To support this, the team was successful in applying to The FA for funding to deliver the following projects:

1. Back in Play Employability – Complete (see more below)

2. Women’s World Cup Legacy Grant (Louise) – In progress

3. Referee Retention Scheme (Jack S) – In progress

4. Funded referee course for underrepresented groups (Jack S) – Coming soon

Led by Issey, Back in Play Employability focused on recruiting young people out of work and/or living with a disability to attend a programme of events over a 10 week period.

Each session aimed to upskill learners through employability and coaching workshops, combined with practical football activity. The project aimed to remove any barriers to getting into football coaching, with learners signposted into local grassroots clubs and supported to complete the FA Introduction to Coaching Football qualification. This will enhance their CV when applying for full time work and we look forward to seeing their progress.

Jack H is working with a number of clubs to enhance their facilities and there is currently support available for clubs affected by recent flooding. Contact the Development Team for more information if you have been impacted.

Our Safeguarding and Discipline teams are, sadly, as busy as ever. From low level poor practice concerns to serious safeguarding risks and a high number of allegations of discrimination and other misconduct, we continue to complete in-depth investigations and analysis of evidence in order to safeguard all participants within the game. While the statistics and trends are disappointing, it is vital that these instances continue to be reported so that something can be done to change behaviour and/or remove individuals from the game.

Who is in our Worcestershire FA team?

As I mention some members of our team throughout this update, I am keen to highlight one of my key priorities which is to make our organisation more relatable for customers and stakeholders. To begin this process, we have updated the staff section of our website. Click here to read more about the staff who make up our team based at County Sports Ground.

Preparations are already well underway for the 2024/25 season and beyond

This summer will see the start of a new four year National Game Strategy released by The Football Association. In conjunction with this, we will be forming our strategy for the same period and I look forward to sharing this with you in due course. Currently, we are working towards achieving two important kitemarks. Firstly, our Leadership Team is working towards achieving The FA’s Code of Governance, a standard to demonstrate effective operational processes throughout the organisation from Board level right through to staff. Secondly, we have submitted an application for Equality Standard – Preliminary Level, which supports our new Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan and our efforts to make football accessible to everyone. Watch this space!

Around the County Sports Ground

Many of you will be aware of the challenges faced by Paul and our site team on the grass pitch when the inevitable wet weather arrives, in the main down to the clay base and the fact it sits on spoil from when the A449 dual carriageway was installed. With this pitch being the home venue for Worcester City FC’s Men’s first team, we understand some of the frustration for fans when matches are postponed due to inclement weather. However, a lot of the information shared by individuals via word of mouth and on social media couldn’t be further from the truth. Worcestershire FA continues to invest a substantial amount of money into the pitch and has a very good working relationship with Worcester City FC as tenants of our County Sports Ground. The Football Club also works hard to complete ground improvements as required by The FA’s ground grading criteria in order to help players, officials and spectators to have a positive experience. This is an ongoing process and the one thing I can guarantee is that we will listen to constructive feedback, as demonstrated by our recent face-to-face Q&A session with fans of the Club. We committed to – and achieved – our aim of answering any question as openly and transparently as possible. Of course, we will continue to seek expert advice and consider all options regarding the long-term pitch plan, but we must be mindful of protecting the financial interests of the organisation and our wider duty to football across the county.

On the drier side of the site, the 3G pitch continues to attract significant bookings throughout the season. There is occasionally some availability on Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings and you can contact Mark in our Bookings Team to make an enquiry if you would like to hire the 3G pitch for a fixture or training. We also have a number of indoor spaces suitable for meetings and conference events, with information available by clicking here.

So, that’s it! Thank you for continuing to be involved in local football in whatever capacity you choose and I look forward to seeing many of you out and about during the remaining months of the season.

Happy New Year.

Ollie Williams
Chief Operating Officer