In one of her first interviews since being elected the first female Chair of the Kent FA, Denise Richmond has been talking to Mike Green of Kent Sports News about the job that she faces over the next twelve months as Kent football comes to terms with the post COVID-19 era…
“It’s a real privilege and an honour, and I’m very proud of it,” Denise told KSN.
“It was a surprise as in an election you will always worry that in the traditional world that is football you think that guys will vote for guys. So, I didn’t truly expect to be elected although I hoped to be.”
“I think that the broad experience that I’ve had is recognition at club level, and at league level and you’re responsible for running and leading an organisation, and I think that that helped.”
“More recently I also became an “FA Club consultant” which means working with large clubs to help them become more sustainable – I’ve worked with Long Lane, Parkwood Rangers and some work with Anchorians – where there are big clubs with big numbers of teams and therefore players to help them work out how they can be sustainable for the future.”
“So that real broad range of experience is experience in today’s world as well – being involved in the here and now and what the environment the clubs and leagues are working in at the moment.”
“COVID-19 has affected everybody in these past five months and I don’t think anyone has the answers – we’re all working and trying very hard to do the right things, but we’re working through unchartered territory – there’s a massive amount of budget cuts from the FA that filters down not just to County associations, but to League grants and development funds and that’s the challenge; it’s how we take things and develop them in today’s world.”
“It’s exciting because it’s really good to be at a time when football is still at the front of everyone’s minds – whether that’s young boys or girls playing the game or senior teams or senior ladies teams – it’s still at the front of people’s minds and that’s the exciting bit, how can you help shape the future!”
Denise is under no illusion that she has “big shoes” to fill following the excellent work that her two immediate predecessors – Barry Bright and Phillip Smith – have done for Kent football.
“They certainly have!” she told Mike. “I think that both of them have left their mark on football nationally because of their involvement as an FA representative and driving change in Kent over the last ten to fifteen years.”
“I feel really proud that I’ve been elected to carry that baton on and continue with that change and development. There’s no massive ambition to make massive change, but certainly the county associations are being driven by the FA to adopt a new code of governance which is all about structures – how they organise themselves, how they conduct their business and I think with that structure to help the support team, it makes change and evolution better I think and easier – though no change is easy!”
Denise then confirmed that she will continue as the Chair of SCEFL; “I’ll do both,” she said. “I think that things I have learned from being chair of SCEFL have set me up in a good place to be Chair of the county, and I think to be still involved in football is a good thing. Others have done it with other associations, so at this point in time, I don’t think it would make any difference.”
With everything around seemingly stacked against football at the moment, Denise is potentially facing a tough first year in the job as she admitted, “I think it’s going to be interesting year – but there are a lot of people around who can help, support and guide.”
“It’s just a case of making the right decisions at the right time. Making those decisions when you have the support of people instead of making the support arbitrary is always better as you have that backing and some will just ignore it anyway.”
“It’s going to be exciting and challenging all at the same time – I’m very excited and also pretty damned scared; it’s a new challenge for me but it’s a “healthy scared” if that makes sense…”
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