I first became involved with Fleur de Lys Youth FC when my own son joined up with the ‘Soccer Tots’ group and, like many of our other parents, I quickly got the coaching bug.
I’m still going now - I’m the club’s development officer - and it’s something I’m really passionate about, coaching in general.
So it’s great that as a club for young players, we’re getting the parents onto the touchline in a different way by encouraging them into coaching.
Based just outside Portsmouth, we run teams from U7s through to U18s as well as Soccer Tots for those aged 3-6 and as a club, we want to be as inclusive as possible to make sure all of the kids involved enjoy their football as much as possible regardless of ability, and improve in the process.
When Alex Twitchen, our local FA Coach Mentor, came along a few years ago to put on some coaching workshops, they quickly grew in popularity with our parents.
We’ve now got a group of parents as qualified Level One coaches, and some who have moved on to Level Two, working with all our teams and it’s something which has really caught on.
And when Alex came back more recently for another visit, he saw a lot of the coaches who he first introduced a few years ago, are still going strong and a new group of parents waiting to get started.
It’s become part of the club’s culture and DNA – even our chairman steps in to coach - and we have a local coach in charge of our U8s who isn’t a parent, but wants to coach our youngsters and realises we provide the right environment for that.
The spirit of the club stretches off the pitch too, as we now have our own home at Drayton Park where we took over an old local facility pavilion, which was built in the 1930s and came complete with a bowling green.
With the help of our parents and other volunteers, who worked alongside each other, we’ve 'made good' the pavilion by re-wiring, re-plumbing and fitting it out with a kitchen and facilities to house our teams. It's not finished by any stretch of the imagination, but we're still trying to raise funds for that.
The old bowling green is now used for training by our younger teams on a Saturday and while we’re always looking to improve it more, which is our long-term ambition, it’s a real hub for us at a weekend.
But for me, as a volunteer and committed member of the club, I’m proud to have played a part in helping build what we now have in place and if you’re a parent of a young footballer who hasn’t yet considered taking that first step into coaching, then it’s something I’d fully recommend.