Football fanatic honoured with FA award for services to grassroots game
- Credit: Supplied
A football fanatic from Potters Bar has been honoured for more than half a century of work in the grassroots game with a special award from the Football Association.
Bob Leeds was awarded with a 50-year service medal for his work playing, officiating and administrating at a number of clubs in Hertfordshire and London, much to his surprise.
“I was very surprised to receive the award,” he said.
“I was aware that these awards are sometimes made but didn’t expect it.
"It was presented to me by the chairman of my club Old Finchleians at a recent club committee meeting and I was nominated by the Amateur FA.
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“I do feel very honoured and grateful that the efforts volunteers put in over the years are recognised by the governing body of football in this country.”
Starting out in grassroots football in 1969, Bob played for a number of London-based clubs, including Clapton Rover, Standard Chartered Bank and Old Finchleians before moving into coach, administration and refereeing roles.
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Bob admits that while facilities have improved greatly over the past half century, he does have concerns about the number of young people participating in the grassroots game.
"Grassroots football has changed dramatically since I first started playing back in the 60s," he said.
"Facilities and pitches are generally better and the introduction of FA coaching courses has helped with fitness, tactics and technique.
"On the downside, fewer young people continue in the game past the age of 16 or 17, they seem to want their leisure time and don’t always want to commit to a full season."
Bob still puts on his boots to play, while he has also played a key role in the grassroots game in Potters Bar during his lengthy career.
“I managed a team for Potters Bar United Youth for 10 years from around 1999,” he told the Welwyn Hatfield Times.
“I worked as a Football Development Officer for the AFA for 15 years and retired in 2019. During this time, I assisted many clubs with funding applications from the Football Foundation including Old Owens for their changing room improvements.”
Bob's son, George, is now involved in grassroots football, and he hopes he makes as many memories in the game as he did.
"Football has played a big part in my life," he said.
"I told my son George when he first started playing, that if he made a fraction of the lifelong friends and had half as much fun and memories as I have through playing football he will be a lucky man."