WARREN BARLOW'S INSIGHT INTO JUNIOR FOOTBALL: Volunteers are playing such a key role in developing young starlets

I AM writing this as I am on a train to London where I will be working for a couple of days.

It has got me thinking about the volunteers we have in the grassroots game and the pressure many of them are under.

The vast majority of our 565 teams are run by volunteers. They have taken a coaching course or courses, many at their own expense.

They have attended child protection workshops, first aid courses and been subject of a criminal records bureau check.

They commit to coaching a team or teams and running them on match days. That matchday routine involves ensuring all the players, officials and opposition attend the right location, setting the pitch up, warming the players up, giving some last minute instructions and assisting throughout the game when needed.

The work doesn't stop there as a post match routine of paying the match official, chat to players, taking the pitch down, arranging the next game or coaching and ringing the result in, takes place.

The average coach does around 10 hours unpaid work each week for the benefit of their group of players and club.

Amplify that by those who are club and league officials and you will see the commitment is a sizeable one.

I for example estimate am engaged in football related activities around 30 hours per week and I am aware of people who do much more.

Therefore if you look at the 1500 coaches, club and league committee members associated with the Bolton and Bury District Football League and average them out at 15 hours per week voluntary activity so we balance between the lower end of the efforts to the upper end.

That is an astounding 22,500 hours of voluntary work going on each week in this league. The cost can be great and I am aware of some who leave the game due to financial, family, health or other reasons.

Burn out of the volunteer is a serious issue and they all need your support.

As we are in the festive period I would like all parents, guardians and other supporters to think about the sacrifices that these volunteers are making for the benefit of our youth and the game. Have a wonderful Christmas.

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