Graham Fenney recognised for services to grassroots

St Helens Star: Graham Fenney recognised for services to grassroots Graham Fenney recognised for services to grassroots

THE chairman of Rainford Rangers Junior Football Club - Graham Fenney - has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to grassroots and youth football in St Helens.

It is a reward for almost three decades of tireless toil in helping develop players of all abilities in grassroots football in St Helens.

His achievements over the years are remarkable considering all his work has been done in his own leisure time and on a voluntary basis.

He has managed to balance his work in grassroots football with his family commitments and demanding job as a Sales Manager for the General Electric company.

A delighted Graham said: "I am absolutely delighted to have received such recognition for my work in grassroots football.

"It has been a joy and a pleasure to have worked with so many children of different abilities, I hope I have provided them with opportunities and life long memories.

"I must acknowledge and thank my family for supporting me over the years and letting me indulge in my passion for grassroots football.

"I feel very proud I have been able to put something back into the game that has been so much part of my life.

"To receive a national award for something I have loved doing makes me feel truly honoured."

Fittingly Rainford’s fellow sports clubs - cricket and tennis - joined the borough’s football community in congratulating Graham on his award.

Graham’s great passion for football and a real desire to help young people develop and achieve their ambitions has shone through in his work.

As a committed community activist he has been instrumental across a range of community projects for nearly 30 years, to secure facilities and coaching for thousands of youngsters.

One significant achievement totally attributed to Graham’s determination and vision for improved sports facilities came in 2011.

The Rainford Rangers Junior Football Club has been in existence for almost 40 years, throughout that time the club had never had a home ground and relied entirely on hiring pitches from the council, schools and private landowners.

The club always had a vision to establish a home ground, and through Graham’s dedication and steadfast attitude the club were able to move into their new ground in September 2011.

His persistence to convert 9 acres of agricultural land to sport and leisure reversed the trend of losing our open spaces to building development.

Graham played a major role in the development of six football pitches - negotiating a suitable site with the landowner, completing a successful planning application and then raised the finance from grant awards, sponsorship and various fundraising events.

The project was completed on time and the outcome is a high quality facility for youngsters, aged four up to 18, to develop their skills in a safe and friendly environment.

The opening of the new ground enabled the club has been able to increase the membership from 110 to over 250, which includes introducing girls football for the first time ever in the club.

The new ground has also helped increase participation in sport in the community by providing an area for the local running club to train and for the local cub scouts to use for their activities.

Further recognition should also be given to Graham for the work he has done in establishing the club Academy which introduced young players to football and provided a vehicle for recruiting new coaches and volunteers to help form new teams.

Graham has personally identified and recruited dozens of new coaches.

This has enabled the club to produce at least one new team each year from the Academy.

If that is not enough he can often be seen doing maintenance work on the new pitches.

After nearly 30 years of dedication service in grassroots football, it is appropriate Graham is recognised for outstanding service to the community and grassroots football.

As part of his work with the Academy he has forged strong links with a number of professional football clubs and very often takes groups of players to the professional Academies for coaching sessions. Another great example of his desire to provide children with opportunities and life long memories.

Graham commands the respect of all the team managers and coaches in the club and very often acts as a mentor to the coaches. He has attended an FA Mentoring Course and has been a true role model for all the club team managers and coaches.

Under Graham’s guidance Rainford Rangers JFC was one of the first junior football clubs in the Merseyside area to achieve FA Charter Standard. This is recognition the club is being operated in accordance with the FA guidelines, both in terms of on the field activities, coaching etc and in terms of off the field administration and management.

Another example of Graham’s dedication to improving facilities for grassroots football and providing quality experiences for the youth can very often be seen when he regularly puts his club management responsibilities to one side and volunteers for maintenance work on the new pitches. He ensures everything is done to the highest standard for the benefit of all who use the facility for sport.

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