Neil Richards standard on the pitch in the sunshine at Ascot United FC

Neil Richards is in the BBFA Spotlight

Steph Clark
Neil Richards has been volunteering at Ascot United FC for over two decades.

Affectionately known as 'Mr Ascot', Neil Richards has volunteered at Ascot United FC for over twenty years.

The story of how he got involved will be a familiar tale to many. His daughter wanted to play, and the coach asked him if he could help support the team.

Fast-forward 20 years, his daughter has long since played football, but Neil is still with club. And, as so many volunteers do, he has found himself fulfilling a multitude of roles across his with the club, from coach to Director of Football and others in between.

“I continued volunteering after my daughter left, I was already on my coaching journey and I worked through my coaching badges and I still found there was lots of opportunities within the club to manage different teams at different levels, including our Allied Counties team, our U23 team, then eventually our First Team role which I did for a number of years before I handed over to Jamie Tompkins about four or five years ago.” Neil recalls.

He added: "I've been Director of Football coming up for six years. That role includes setting the strategy for both youth development and senior football ensuring we are going into the right leagues and that we have the right principles in place for football development for players of all abilities and genders at the club.”

Like most volunteers, Neil balances his time volunteering at the club with a full-time job and family responsibilities, and whilst he will be stepping down from his current role at the end of the season, Neil will remain at the club as an advisory member of the Board.

As a member of a large club, being involved in the local community is something Neil finds incredibly rewarding and, alongside the personal development he experiences through giving back, this is a key factor in why Neil continues to volunteer. 

“Volunteering is incredibly important to me. It keeps me busy outside of work, I am always working outside, it is great for your mental health and at Ascot it really is another family really, it is a great family environment to work and network with people.”

Volunteering can be an incredible enriching experience for many people, nurturing a sense of belonging and purpose, and helping connect people with others whilst giving back to their local communities.

Whilst roles like Neil’s require a little more time than most, there are many other roles at local football clubs and leagues across the region that can be filled by volunteers, and which require varying amounts of time and experience.

“I would encourage anyone to come down and volunteer at a Football Club. You don’t have to be a coach, there are lots of other activities where we need help from people regardless of their skills or the time to which they can commit.”

If Neil’s story has inspired you to get involved in volunteering for your local club or league, contact your local Club Secretary (Find Football near you here). 

Alternatively, if you’d like to speak to someone at the County FA for more information about volunteering, some of the roles available and clubs in your local area, please contact us via email.

Related News

View All