We recently caught up with the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer and Senior Safeguarding Lead at the Herefordshire Football Association Alan Darfi about his plans for local football in the county.
Alan started at The FA in London where he worked in a number of roles for 8 years, before moving to Leeds as a Sports Solicitor. He then joined the West Riding County FA before moving to the Rugby Football League as Director of Projects and Legal.
1) What made you apply for the role at Herefordshire FA?
Having worked in professional and amateur sport for all of my career, the majority in football, I was really keen to return to a grassroots role, which is the area of the game I’m most passionate about. With the completion of the 3G pitch facility and recent departure of both Jim and Val Lambert, who most people involved in football will have known in some form, it was clear there was a great deal of potential at the HFA. Having discussed with a number of colleagues across sport, the reputation of the team here was also excellent, so it became a bit of a no-brainer decision to be honest.
2) You relocated for the move. What was it about Herefordshire that attracted you?
The opportunity to relocate to Herefordshire was certainly a huge selling point. As a young family, we were really keen to lay down some roots somewhere with a real community feel and plenty of countryside nearby. Having visited the County a number of times in the past, it’s really great to be able to now call it home.
3) The Coronavirus pandemic has made your first few months in the role extremely difficult. We’ve seen a number of measures that you’re putting in place to support clubs, do you think the majority will survive?
As you say, it has certainly been a challenging time for all of football and it unfortunately seems that this may continue for a little while yet. The financial consequences of the restrictions are yet to be seen and there is no doubt that this will touch football, with the sport being the heart and soul of communities up and down the County. As you mentioned, we have put in a place a comprehensive support package for Clubs to try and assist, with the result being that it will cost less to participate this year, when football is back up and running. We have also created a fund that Clubs can bid into, to help them get back on their feet. Importantly, whilst Clubs can complete their administration now, nothing will need paying until we get the green light from government. With these measures and the fantastic support that our Clubs receive from their players and local communities, I am hopeful we will be in a position where football can get back to where it was, when it is safe to do so. I know the break has really made people realise just how much the sport means to them, whatever their involvement, from a sporting, social and health benefits point of view, so hopefully that is sooner rather than later.
4) Our coverage of local football was ever increasing before the pandemic took hold. We were getting some fantastic feedback. How important do you believe it is for local clubs to get positive coverage?
I thought your coverage was excellent and I am looking forward to seeing this continue when things get back to normal. It is absolutely crucial that local clubs get positive promotion in my opinion, as they do some truly great things for their communities and any opportunities they are given to put themselves in the limelight is deserved.
5) Where would you like to see Herefordshire FA in 5 years time and do you have any projects that you are keen to get going?
I am keen to ensure that we continue on the path of change and development that we are in the middle of. There are some great things happening in football across Herefordshire and I am really keen to make sure that we do a better job of shouting about it. I would also like to see development of additional 3G pitches and those already completed across the County being at full capacity. Whilst in the past these pitches have been criticised, the newer surfaces provide a fantastic playing experience at all levels. We still have a number of slots available on our pitch at the County Ground, and I would urge anyone who has not played on one before to come and give it a go, when football gets back up and running.