Suffolk FA look to future with Cole

THE appointment of Will Cole as Suffolk Football Association's first full time employee, signals a 'fantastic opportunity for clubs'.

THE appointment of Will Cole as Suffolk Football Association's first full time employee, signals a 'fantastic opportunity for clubs'.

Cole, 33 and with a rugby playing background, began work in May as Suffolk's development officer based in the renovated maltings building in Felaw Street, Ipswich.

The Football Association dictated that every county should have a full- time development officer and they are part funding the operation. Also taken on full time at Felaw Street is 21-year-old James Payne, a clerical officer who plays football for Framlingham Town.

Cole, who has a degree in sports studies, has already made inroads into his job and described the aspects his job will involve.

"One of my main tasks will be to assist Suffolk clubs so that they can benefit from income that is now available through the Football Foundation," he said.

"This goes back to the Football Task Force involving David Mellor which looked into ways of giving grass roots football part of the income that was coming into the game through the media.

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"Each Premiership club donates five per cent of its broadcasting income to the fund. The Premiership donates another 5pc and the Government matches that with another 5pc.

"This year there is £40 million in the kitty and in 2002 this is expected to rise to £60m. This is a fantastic opportunity for clubs and already we are helping clubs improve pitch drainage after the very wet winter. There are also opportunities to improve changing facilities.

"On average it takes about 12 weeks for applications to be turned round, and around 60pc of the total cost is normally funded if an application is agreed."

Cole has experience in sports funding as he previously worked for the Sports Council dealing with Lottery money.

A local football partnership group is to be formed that will meet six times a year and be representative of all football groups, while Cole also plans to co-ordinate coaching in the county.

"We have many qualified coaches but no collective method of organisation. I plan to issue newsletters etc and bring everybody together," he said.

"I also plan to work closely with schools and clubs have a part to play here by linking up with education authorities."

What Cole, who played some of his rugby for top Norfolk club North Walsham, sees as one of his main tasks is to improve opportunities for young people.

"Clubs with youth teams can qualify for charter mark status. This will give parents a better guide when selecting a club to send their children.

"Clubs given the charter mark will be of high quality and can use the logo in their publicity. They will have to reach certain standards, have qualified coaches and be conversant in aspects like child protection. These clubs will receive extra help from the FA."

Suffolk public relations officer Barry Felgate said the appointment of Cole gave county clubs the best of both worlds.

"He will be answerable to the honorary officials who remain running football in Suffolk," said Felgate. "He will work office hours but during evenings and at weekends clubs will still be able to contact the honorary officials.

"In other counties where all staff are full time there is little opportunity to talk to county officials at evenings and weekends. Will is going to have to put a development plan to the FA, with the expansion of women's football a big part of his job. He has a wide-ranging brief.

"James will be dealing with much of the county's paperwork taking some of the work load off county officials to whom he will be answerable."