In December 2003, Tom decided that he would step in temporarily to coach and manage the team his younger brother was playing in, which was, at that time, losing its then Team Manager. As he states himself, "as it was only half way through the season, and the team were close to folding, I agreed to carry it on until the end of that season . . . . then hopefully someone else would pick up the reins". Four years and four seasons later and, guess what, Tom, in his early twenties, still runs that same team - and with a refreshing sense of enjoyment and responsibility that many people a great deal older than Tom would do well to take note of.
With great team work exhibited between Tom, who manages the team, and his Dad and one of the parents who take on coaching tasks for the large squad, the whole experience of looking after a young bunch of lads, helping them learn through positive encouragement, and seeing them grow in confidence, both on and off the field, has been a real motivator in Tom's life. Again, there are good lessons from Tom for any aspiring grass roots coach - again, in his own words, "I always try to keep it fun, as I think the most important thing is for the lads to enjoy themselves. I believe the improvements are greater if the lads enjoy the learning."
Like several teams at Kewford, the results on the pitch, whilst important in a competitive game, often give way to a broader aspect of learning in a positive team environment. Our club measures its successes in two ways. The most obvious is having the occasional set of players who come along, once in a while, and achieve through results on the pitch. The second measure, and many would say the most important one for a grass roots community club, is to provide an opportunity to play the game at a reasonable standard, in a supportive and friendly environment, where players, and parents, can form strong bonds and learn lessons in both football and in life. The way that Tom's team has progressed over the last four years demonstrates both measures, and certainly major's on the second. There is an evident bond and chemistry between the players which has been brought about by Tom and his able assistants. Whilst the results may not have always gone their way, the team is clearly strong in terms of its 'stickability', with many players having been with Tom for the four years in charge.
A West Brom fan and part-time DJ himself, his view of the world without Kewford is very simple - "If I had never got involved with Kewford I don't really know what I might have been doing, just spending more time in front of the tv most likely". Tom discovered early on that you can put a lot into coaching and managing a football team at this level -but the rewards in terms of growth, as a person, a friend, a mentor - well outweigh the costs. Tom is one of the stalwarts required in a club such as Kewford, a Team Manager who gets on with the job, and does it really well - and with a maturity beyond his years.
Well done Tom, thank you for everything you have done and are still doing, and the club sincerely hopes you can carry the players and yourself through towards the Seniors - just a few years to go!!!