This enthusiastic volunteer urges ex-players to stay in football
The fact that Richard Walters juggles a young family with being a retail manager is impressive enough.
But, when you consider the 40-year-old father-of-three is one of the most passionate football volunteers you could ever wish to meet, his story becomes even more remarkable.
For three years, the tireless Sainsbury’s petrol station manager has combined his busy home life with running, coaching and playing for Red Valley FC and, to top it off, he pours hours into being the Bridgend and District League’s general secretary.
Richard’s love affair with football started when he was a six-year-old Cub and he’s now into his fourth decade of playing the game, even though his diminishing pace has pushed him back from midfield to defence.
Enthusiastic Richard relishes the accountability he has to his family, his employers, his team and the thousands of players who make up the Bridgend league, from U7 to senior football.
Now he wants to encourage fellow 40-somethings to stay in the game, once their playing days have ended.
Richard said: “The buzz of playing football is amazing but there’s loads the game can still offer once it’s time to hang up the boots.
“There’s coaching, refereeing and other hands-on roles around the game but I feel there’s so much to gain from the administrative side.
“In the Bridgend League and the South Wales FA, we encourage younger members to join the committee, wherever possible. Whether they want to get involved and go the extra mile or come to meetings and throw ideas around, it’s all very useful.
If you want to join a committee, please email the South Wales FA secretary directly at [email protected]
“My passion is ensuring there is a league for everyone to enjoy. We’ve got thousands of people who are all invested in the Bridgend and District League, including children and adult players, coaches, supporters and volunteers.
“To play my part in giving them the opportunity to do what they love gives me a great sense of achievement.
“When I see kids lining up to play in a cup final or the joy of somebody winning a league, it gives me a great buzz to know I’ve played a part in making that happen.
“So many good things go on in Bridgend football and we need to keep it going and promoting our clubs.
“Llanharry have just been promoted into the South Wales Alliance League and it’s great for us to have representation at the higher levels of Welsh football, rather than just the local league.”
Alongside his work with the league, for seven years, founder member Richard has been instrumental in the rise of Gilfach Goch based Red Valley FC and considers the work he does in running, coaching and playing for his own team to be one of his biggest pleasures in life.
He said: “It’s an achievement to give 20-odd lads get the opportunity to play on a Saturday and it gets me out doing something that I enjoy.
“We’ve had some success in our seven years and I love that feeling of winning games, winning leagues and getting to cup finals.
“I still play, even though my legs aren’t what they used to be, but I find myself doing a lot more of the background work, the paperwork and the administrative stuff and I love it.”
But the most amazing part of Richard’s story is that, even though he pours countless hours into the game he loves, he manages to keep his wife, three children and employers happy.
He said: “My family are very important to me and so are my employers.
“I have to keep a roof over our heads, so sometimes football has to drop down my list of priorities, but it’s a very important part of my life and they all support me with that.
“I don’t play as much as I used to because I don’t want to be hobbling around in work and I always make sure I spend as much time doing things with the kids as I do football.
“I enjoy watching my eight-year-old son play football but I stay well out of the running of his club.”
Finally, Richard’s message to any football lover coming to the end of their playing days is simple. It’s very rewarding and it only takes over your life if you let it.
He said: “Sometimes it can take up a few hours a week and other times it can take up a few hours a day. It depends on the time of year.
“But it certainly doesn’t consume my life.
“I have an extremely supportive wife and I know I need to strike the right balance between football, work and family life.”