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New Suffolk FA boss Richard Neal can’t wait to get started

PUBLISHED: 12:55 24 August 2017 | UPDATED: 13:35 24 August 2017

Richard Neal, the new Chief Executive of Suffolk FA. Picture: NICK GARNHAM

Richard Neal, the new Chief Executive of Suffolk FA. Picture: NICK GARNHAM

Archant

Ahead of starting as Chief Executive Officer for Suffolk Football Association, Richard Neal has emphasised that football in the county must be for all.

Phil Barber, who has returned to Suffolk FA as Football Services Officer. Picture: NICK GARNHAM Phil Barber, who has returned to Suffolk FA as Football Services Officer. Picture: NICK GARNHAM

Ahead of starting as Chief Executive Officer for Suffolk Football Association, Richard Neal has emphasised that football in the county must be for all.

“Whether playing, officiating or supporting; regardless of age, gender, physical ability or experience, football in Suffolk should meet the needs and expectations of everyone. Our role at Suffolk FA is to enable that to happen,” he said.

The 34-year-old, who starts in his new post on September 7th, is no stranger to the region.

Born in Colchester and brought up in Harwich, Neal started his career delivering PE and sport in schools for private coaching organisations before joining Mid Suffolk District Council as Assistant Sports Development Officer.

Becca Bolton, the new Girls’ & Women’s Football Development Officer at Suffolk FA. Picture: NICK GARNHAM Becca Bolton, the new Girls’ & Women’s Football Development Officer at Suffolk FA. Picture: NICK GARNHAM

He then moved to Suffolk Sport and spent three years initially working as Coaching Development Officer and then Children & Young People Officer.

Neal left the area in July 2013 and has been working as Youth Sport Manager for Oxfordshire Sport & Physical Activity ever since. He is also a board member for the association for Physical Education, the only representative subject association for PE in the UK.

He said: “I played football from the age of eight, but stopped playing regularly when I moved to Oxfordshire. I like a challenge and now find reasons to keep fit and remain active. Football remains a passion, and I’m looking forward to focussing all of my efforts into Suffolk FA.”

Neal has trekked to Everest Base Camp, cycled from John O’Groats to Lands End, completed Olympic distance Triathlons in Norwich and Harwich, run a number of half marathons including Ipswich, finished the Manchester Marathon and swum 14km along the River Thames.

Alan Dale, who is the new Suffolk FA Referee Development officer. Picture: NICK GARNHAM Alan Dale, who is the new Suffolk FA Referee Development officer. Picture: NICK GARNHAM

Looking ahead to his new role at Suffolk FA, Neal said: “Our job is to improve and enhance the football experience for everybody.

“We will do that by continuing to work with those already involved in football such as the leagues and clubs, and also by broadening the range of partners we work with to include health, charities and any others with common interests.”

He replaces Laura Smith, who left in March to return to Surrey to be nearer to her family. She has since been appointed as Chief Executive of National League side Aldershot FC.

Neal will head up the team, which includes three new members of staff, at the county’s headquarters in Stowmarket.

Phil Barber has returned as Football Services Officer, after previously working at Suffolk FA in the same role from February 2013 until November 2015.

The 59-year-old, who was born and bred in Ipswich and has lived in the area throughout his life, said: “I have missed being involved in football and working with the grassroots volunteers on a day-to-day basis.”

Becca Bolton is the new Girls’ & Women’s Football Development Officer.

The 25-year-old has joined from the Hull City Tigers Trust, the community arm of Hull City Football Club.

Bolton, who was born in Bridlington, worked for the Tigers Trust for three years as their Girls’ & Women’s Football Development Officer.

She said: “I feel like it is a perfect time to take on the role following the success of the Lionesses at first the World Cup and now the Euros, and also the fact that The FA are looking to double participation among girls and women by 2020.”

Alan Dale, who is also known as AJ, will take up his new appointment as the county’s new Referee Development Officer on September 1st.

The 28-year-old, who was born and bred in Ipswich, is a Level 2A referee, meaning he officiates in the National League, previously known as the Conference, and Premier League 2, which replaced the Under-21 Premier League competition.

Dale will also be operating as fourth official on the Football League, after spending three years as an Assistant Referee on the Football League up to the end of the 2015-16 season.

He said: “After growing up refereeing in Suffolk, I am now looking forward to supporting and developing the refereeing workforce in the county.”

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