05th December 2023
Richie with his son
Volunteer of the Year winner - Richard Coleman
Volunteers play a crucial role in the sport and physical activity sector and the winner of this year’s Volunteer of the Year award is pivotal for his local football club.
Richard Coleman, known as Richie, is not only the chairman of Maidenbower Colts Football Club, but he is also the club development officer, responsible for its social media, and a mental health first aider, all while holding down a demanding full-time job and having a young family.
In his nomination, Richie was described by colleagues as ‘relentless, determined and dedicated, but also utterly selfless’.
He said receiving the award was ‘humbling’, but added: “It is an award for me, but it is actually an award for the club.”
Richie wasn’t interested in football before he got involved with Maidenbower Colts Football Club in Crawley, but saw the sport as a platform to have a positive and lasting impact on young people, preparing them for adult life and helping them navigate childhood.
“I don’t play football. I have never played football. And until my son started playing I was not really interested in football,” he said.
“But I wanted to get involved in the club as I wanted to make my son proud and I recognised some of the stuff I could bring from my time in the military and my time in industry and some of the lessons learnt in running a business could help to run a club and grow it.
“I really took it from the angle of a business point of view as opposed to a sports point of view in terms of the foundations of the organisation.
“I see it as a vehicle to help young people in our area learn, develop and maintain really good habits for life, to create lasting memories and really strong friendships as well, things that will arm them for adult life when they leave Colts.
“I guess the important thing is that they enjoy the time they have got. When they are finished with us what product do we leave? What do we arm them with for their life? For me that is the most important thing.
“Are we churning out good human beings at the end of the grassroot process?”
Diversity and inclusion play an important role in the club.
Richie said: “Every year I give our diversity and inclusion committee a project theme and this year the theme for the club is breaking barriers, not just in sport breaking barriers and improving our performance, but our diversity and inclusion.”
Now, for the first time in the club’s 25 year history, the club has established the first ever all girls section at Colts, which consists of two teams and is key to the establishment.
Richie has been busy raising funding for the new Pan Disability Section and been the driving force behind many of the clubs initiatives on diversity, equality and inclusion, including a SCFA Equality Awards, Kick it Out award and partnering with Her Game Too.
He has helped raise the club’s profile by steering the club to an England Football Grassroots Club of the Year award, and a Crawley Community Award.
Plus, he has sought out new sponsorship to the club to enable new equipment, exciting technology to be used and new winter coaching kits.
Sports clubs and organisations around Sussex are always on the lookout for volunteers. To find out more, visit our volunteering page.