The Chair of Lincolnshire FA, Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, has written an open letter to the grassroots football community of Lincolnshire, addressing key updates and important issues.
I hope you are all keeping well and had a very enjoyable festive period.
As part of both my own and Lincolnshire FA’s commitment to being transparent, I decided that, as Chair, I will write a letter, roughly every quarter, to everyone involved in football in the County. This is the second of my open letters.
Hopefully, this will keep you in touch a little bit more with what is going on behind the scenes and some of the amazing work the Lincolnshire FA staff do on a day-to-day basis, together with some of the challenges we face in an ever-changing world.
Lincolnshire FA Strategy Consultation & Review
As many of you will now know, we are currently undertaking some consultation and engagement work with you all in order to update our Strategy to bring it in line with the new National Strategy from The FA that will run from 2024 to 2028. This work has already seen us host a Consultation Forum at Bishop Groseteste University in Lincoln just before Christmas, where we had around 60 volunteers from Lincolnshire Clubs and Leagues provide their thoughts, feelings, and opinions on key pillars of our game. This included areas such as Behaviours in the Game, Player Pathways & Opportunities, Volunteer Workforce, League Structures, and Barriers to Participation.
We followed this on by undertaking a survey to supplement our findings from this Consultation Forum, which received 165 responses. The survey has now closed and we will be undertaking a review of the responses collated, before integrating the findings and our commitment to solving the issues raised into our updated strategy.
While the survey has now closed, we still want to hear from you if you have any concerns or thoughts about the direction you’d like grassroots football in our area to go in. You sharing your opinions - good, bad, or ugly - will help shape the work that we do to develop the grassroots game in Lincolnshire and drive a game that we can continue to be proud of. If you’d like to share your views with me personally, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enough is Enough
Unfortunately, I do have to raise my dissatisfaction with discipline issues that are ruining enjoyment of the game and consuming resources. Poor behaviour in football is increasing. Prejudice is on the rise. All forms of discrimination – including racist, sexist and homophobic abuse – is ruining our game.
We’re targeting discriminatory abuse in all its forms with a range of punishments. Tell us when it happens, and we’ll tackle it. Together we can put an end to discrimination in the grassroots game. In grassroots football, hate is the expression of discrimination through verbal abuse, insulting gestures and prejudicial behaviour. The discrimination we’re targeting is words and actions that are racist, sexist or homophobic in nature.
I have unfortunately witnessed aggressive, racist, sexist or homophobic behaviour from players, from coaches and from parents. It is disgusting and ruining the game. Coaches and parents in youth football have a particular responsibility to lead by example. I am absolutely adamant that Lincolnshire FA will take action against those who ruin the game for others. The action comes in the form of punishments for those players, clubs and supporters who behave in this manner.
• Referees are encouraged to remove players from play
• Players will be suspended
• Clubs could have points deducted for repeat offences
• Clubs can have their ground closed to spectators for repeat offences
• Spectators will be asked to leave matches if they continue to behave poorly
You’ll be making a big difference by reporting abusive behaviour whenever you see it or hear it. This can be reported at any time, even after the match has finished. To make this easy, there are four ways of telling us. Contact us here at the Lincolnshire FA (click here to report), you can tell the match official, use the Kick it Out App or report it via The FA Website.
I am going to be personally leading a piece of work on this in 2024, so that Lincolnshire FA will do everything in our power to rid the game of negative behaviours. The Directors of the Lincolnshire FA Board are fully committed to resourcing the strategic aim of creating safe and inclusive football environments across Lincolnshire.
Some incredibly powerful and impactful work is already being done by our staff team, who are working on a no-holds-barred local ‘Enough is Enough’ media campaign where Lincolnshire FA highlight case studies from across our area of prominent and reoccurring discipline issues such as discrimination and violent conduct.
While the case studies have been anonymised, the language in this campaign is not being asterisked or shied away from. Not only is this immensely powerful, it’s a true and honest reflection of the issues that we’re facing - both in football and wider society. I implore you to read these case studies and take the message of them on-board. Hopefully, we can make real inroads to improving poor behaviour that has no place in our game. If you want to write to me personally about this, please do so at email@example.com.
New Area Delegates for the Council of Lincolnshire FA
Lincolnshire FA recently welcomed new members to our Council. Many County FA’s have wound-down their council’s or removed them entirely, whereas we’re proud to have gone the other way and made ours bigger and better. On this positive note, I’d like to welcome the following Area Delegates to the Lincolnshire FA Council:
David Snaith - covering East Lindsey North
Louis Bradley - covering Youth Football in Lincoln
Jay Wright - covering Adult Football in Lincoln and the West Lindsey East area
Andy Allen - covering North Kesteven North
Jamie Aspland - covering North Kesteven South
Amber Kitching - covering South Kesteven North
Lincolnshire FA is a membership organisation, and the Council represents the views of our members. Membership of the Lincolnshire FA Council is comprised of representatives from 14 geographical areas across Lincolnshire. This means our Council best represents the structure of grassroots football within the County, to ensure there is a relevant voice at decision making level across the game.
The role of the Area Delegate is to liaise with Clubs and Leagues in your respective area, to facilitate the process of the injured player submitting a claim for the Benevolent Fund, and to facilitate the nomination process of individuals within your area for the Lincolnshire FA Service Recognition Awards.
I’d like to encourage everyone to reach out to their Area Delegate if and when they need support from them. Your respective Area Delegates contact details can be found attached to their names above.
British Heart Foundation Partnership
Every time we hear of a cardiac-related death in football, it cuts to the bone. Back in August last year, I was privileged to be part of the launch for our ‘50 for 50’ campaign - raising money for the life saving research that’s undertaken by the British Heart Foundation. The campaign aimed for 50 clubs to raise £50 to help reach a goal of £2,500 during the next football season.
I’m delighted to be able to share that so far, the '50 for 50' campaign has raised £3,275 - smashing the initial £2,500 target set out for the initiative.
Clubs that have donated to the cause are Burgh Athletic Juniors, Colsterworth Colts JFC, Keelby United, Healing Hotspurs FC, Ancaster Athletic, Stamford Strollers, Hykeham Tigers U8's, Holbeach United Community Sports Academy, Louth Town Football Club, Immingham Pilgrims AFC, Grimsby Borough Juniors, and Lincoln Invictus Inclusive FC. The family of Reggie Aslin have also donated to the cause. Thank you to each one!
All of this hard work and unbelievable generosity means that the grassroots football community of Lincolnshire, from its clubs to its County FA, have so far raised a total of £7,264 for the British Heart Foundation. The work isn’t done yet though, because we have just under £3,000 left to raise of the £10,000 target set out at the start of the two-year partnership. The ‘50 for 50’ campaign has hit its target, but we’ve not hit 50 clubs taking part in the campaign just yet and so please consider if your club can take part in the campaign. I look forward to seeing the final push of our partnership and seeing us, hopefully, achieve our £10,000 target.
New Board Members
Earlier this week, myself along with Lincolnshire FA CEO - Nick Hanson - and Senior Independent Director, FA Rep, and Director for Organisational Development - Shan Jaehrig - conducted interviews for new Independant Non-Executive Directors of the Board. We met some fantastic candidates and I’m pleased to say we’ll soon be able to announce our new Directors for Media & Marketing, HR & People, and Safeguarding.
That’s pretty much it for the Winter update, but I want to highlight that an awful lot of positive work has been done across Lincolnshire in the last 12 months - and even more will be done in 2024.
I hope you continue enjoying your football in 2024.
Very best wishes,
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