“As a grandchild might ask – “ … and what do you do grandad?”.
Firstly as a Trust member I try and participate in fundraising activities including the Walk to Oxford, the Snowdon Climb and most recently the Ride to Amsterdam with Keith Ryan and Keith Scott.
Secondly, as an elected representative on the Trust Board, I try to make myself visible and available to answer members’ questions by serving real ale in the newly renamed Caledonian Suite and having a season ticket on the terrace, even though the latter means the risk of abuse from Al and Phil or interrogation from Richard.
However, each Trust Director now has a specific role and I currently represent the football club on the board of Wycombe Wanderers Sports & Education Trust (“WWSET”), the charitable arm of the football club. WWSET is a part of ‘One Wycombe’ and is expanding and developing its role in the local community through the leadership of Paul Foley under the guidance of a board headed by Steve Edgar.
WWSET runs a diverse range of activities within the community, all of which aim to provide opportunities for improvements in health, education, social inclusion and sports participation, including football. Supporters of Wycombe Wanderers will be aware of the fact that following the Trust takeover of the club in 2012, a painful decision had to be made to disband the youth academy which under the guidance of Richard Dobson had provided an enviable record in developing players for the first team, many of whom including Matt Phillips, Russell Martin and Jordon Ibe would go on to play at the highest level.
Whilst it is unlikely that the club will be able to reinstate a youth academy in the near future, the development of talented local football players by Wycombe Wanderers has not stopped. Through the WWSET Elite Centre, boys aged between seven and 16 receive four hours of professional coaching each week, plus play matches against other professional clubs, elite centres and academies, and whilst there is no opportunity for them to further their development through WWFC, in recent years more than 70 boys have gone on to join academies including Arsenal, Chelsea, Reading and Spurs, including 10+ already this season.
Through WWSET, the reputation and name of Wycombe Wanderers as a club who play an active role in giving local children opportunities in football is being maintained. In the summer of 2016, WWSET made another step forward by announcing the formation of an Elite and Development Academy for girls and teams will be run at under 10, 11, 12 and 13 age groups. The first competitive matches will be played against Northampton Town on December 21st. My role is to help ensure that the planned WWSET activities complement those of WWFC in the community.”