Page 32 - ONSIDE Issue 31

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improving facilities • creating opportunities • building communities
The Football Foundation
Whittington House, 19-30 Alfred Place,
London, WC1E 7EA
0845 345 4555
Registered Charity Number 1079309. Registered in England andWales. Company limited by guarantee. Company Number 3876305.
Dan Walker
Presenter of BBC One’s Football Focus
Q. What has struck you most
about our national game
in your time presenting
Football Focus?
How much affection people have
for it. Spor t in general, and football
in par ticularly, have the capability to
captivate like little else.The depth
of feeling, passion and occasionally
comical one-eyedness never ceases
to amaze me.Wherever I go, people
are also keen to talk about their
team and the people they see on
telly talking about their team. It’s
wonderful to work on something
that people care so much about.
Q. You’ve just agreed to
become a Foundation
Ambassador (thank you!),
how important is this work
in improving the quality of
local facilities to people’s
enjoyment of the game?
It’s huge. My school mates and I
always used to play on the local
park every Saturday but I can still
remember when the local leisure
centre built four astroturf pitches.
They were packed every night of
the week because there was such
a big appetite for it.To use a culinary
analogy... if you give a chef a manky
saucepan and a turnip they could
probably rustle up a dodgy soup, but
give them the best ingredients, best
gear and a state-of-the-art kitchen
and they’ll knock you up something
fit for a king.
Q. And how are you yourself
as a footballer?
I love playing football and still have
a kick about twice a week when
possible. I’m 6 ft. 6 inches tall and was
this huge at the age of 12 when I was
a fairly impressive (basically massive)
individual in the school football team.
As I got a little older it dawned on me
that I was, in fact, distinctly average and
any hope of working in football lay on
the other side of the camera.
Q. Which team do you
I am a CrawleyTown fan. My dad is
from Enfield in North London so
I look out for Spurs in the Premier
League and Mr Hoddle andWaddle
were my boyhood idols, but I watched
Crawley for years in the Southern
League, Dr Martens Premier and
Beazer Homes League so it’s amazing
to see the team currently doing the
business in League 1. It’s been an
incredible few seasons.
Q. If they could sign any
player from history, who
would you choose?
Toughy.Waddle and Brazilian Ronaldo
are in my top three (just edging
Michael Laudrup into four th) but the
best footballer I have ever seen in the
flesh was Zinedine Zidane.The bloke
is complicated, hard to fathom and
rarely interviewed, but his footballing
talents, in my eyes, are unsurpassed
and I think he could ‘do a job’ at the
Broadfield Stadium.
Q. Tell us something about
yourself that would surprise
I was once sick on a pigeon from
the top of St Paul’s Cathedral due to
ver tigo! The pigeon was surprised but
took it well and thankfully survived.
: Neil Barber
: Centre Manager
:West Marsh
Community Centre JFC
Neil Barber foundedWest Marsh
Community Centre Junior Football
Club in 1999. His hard work, with
the help of Foundation capital and
revenue grants, has resulted in him
expanding the club – including
achieving Charter Standard status
– from one team to six, including
four junior sides, one adult and one
disability squad.
Neil has also developed a
par tnership with the council’s Spor ts
Development department and the
police to run a Friday night inclusion
session, which encourages young
people to keep active and stay off
the streets.To mark his achievements,
in 2012 Neil was handed the FA
Community Award for Volunteer
of theYear.
“Since our inception
in 2000 the soul aim of theWest
Marsh Community Centre JFC is
to give every child the chance to
take part in sport.With Foundation
funding – and support from the
Lincolnshire FA – that target gets
ever closer.
“I am absolutely over the
moon with this FA award, mainly
because it recognises the work you
do and reaches a wider audience
than you could ever imagine. But I
am nothing without my team! I am
an ordinary man doing the best I
can with the tools I have.”
“Neil embodies the
spirit of a volunteer. His dedication
to football in Lincolnshire is rightly
recognised with this award, and
his efforts withWest Marsh
are remarkable!”
Sir Geoff Hurst,World
Cup hat trick hero and
McDonalds Director
of Football