One of our current Marketing Management with Placement Year students was recently nominated as a finalist for the Sussex Sports Awards 2018 Young Volunteer of the Year.
Tom Amber, a final-year Business School marketing student, was shortlisted for the award because of his involvement with Woodingdean Wanderers and his volunteer work associated with the University of Brighton’s Sport Brighton Parklife programme.
Held at The Grand Hotel, this year’s event received a record number of nominations from across the county. The black-tie gala dinner, organised by Active Sussex, welcomed special guest and co-host, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards.
We met with Tom to speak with him about his nomination, which came from both Woodingdean Wanderers FC and the University of Brighton.
What were the volunteering activities you were nominated for?
“For the University, in relation to sports, the voluntary work I have done over the last year relates to the Parklife Football programme. I facilitate the football league, managing and organising fixtures for 13 teams, each comprised of between 15 and 20 students across the University of Brighton, the University of Sussex and the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS).
“For Woodingdean Wanderers FC, I have done the bulk of my volunteer work. I founded the team as “Lads on Toure” in 2015. This evolved to become a team comprising 38 players, all students from across the universities I’d worked with in the Parklife programme. By 2017, I began to look at establishing ourselves officially within the community through Woodingdean Wanderers FC.”
How did you establish the Woodingdean Wanderers FC Adult team?
“I reached out to a number of clubs in and around Brighton who had youth teams in place, but lacked an adult team – my aim was not only to establish our adult team in the local community, but to make it a sustainable team that would have a long-term, self-sustaining future, irrespective of whether students from the universities remained involved post-graduation and so that the club wasn’t reliant on the fresh recruitment of new students each year. There would need to be youth teams that could feed in to the adult team as a natural progress pathway.
“Woodingdean Wanderers FC were the club that got back to me who met the most of my criteria. They are an FA Chartered Standard club, working towards Development Club status; with teams from Under 7s right through to Under 17s; and offered the stability and structure, as well as some very experienced individuals, that I had been looking for. Thus began our partnership. This happened between February 2018 and May 2018. We recruited a coach and also sent one of our own international students on an FA Level 1 coaching course.”
Tell us a bit more about your volunteer work with Woodingdean Wanderers FC?
“The bulk of the players in our team had never played football before in their lives before joining the team and I have kept this as a key philosophy for our team – commitment is rewarded more than talent.
“We also have many international students and a couple of mature students who have said that without the community this team provided, they don’t think they would still be at university, as this helped them settle more than anything. Again, we take pride in this, and have kept a culture in our team so that we avoid the pitfalls of stereotypical men’s football teams’ “laddish” and competitive nature.”
What’s next for the team?
“In September this year, we began our inaugural season in Division 3 of the Sussex Sunday Football League as one of the only teams without a sponsor, and without weekly ‘subs’ fees. The team remains self-sufficient, both financially, and progressively in regards to its membership.
If you are interested in joining the Woodingdean Wanderers, please tweet @WAdults.