HEREFORDSHIRE Football Association’s new football strategy manager Roger Goodwin realises that there are some challenges ahead in his new job.

He has been busy in his early days in his new role identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the game in the county.

“The small-sided game and the youth game are really strong at the moment,” he said. “But the 11-a-side male adult football is an area which we need to look on.

“There could be a number of reasons for that and we would welcome any input from the local footballing public.”

Goodwin is hoping that people will attend a consultation event at the Starlite Rooms on February 18 where he can get feedback on what could be achieved.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our customers to help shape the future of football development in the county,” he said.

“The event will give us feedback on various areas of the game and will assist us in our future plans, ensuring that the customers’ views and needs are considered.”

But, meanwhile, Goodwin is working to ensure that as many people as possible have the chance to play the game.

“I’m working with the football development officer and the referee development officer to ensure that the local provision is increased and also that the standards are improved,” he said.

“It’s providing as many opportunities for people to play football but then, once they are playing, that they are getting the full quality of the experience.

“It’s also about ensuring that those standards are raised across the board — whether that be looking at refereeing, looking after the coaches or looking after those people who want to play or volunteer.

“There are a wide range of people involved in local football who we need to support and hopefully we can offer that.”

He also has to work to ensure that those who are looking to play the game actually have somewhere to go and take part.

“We are working closely with Herefordshire Council to look at the player-to-pitch strategy to ensure that there are enough pitches outlined over the next few years to help to shape the game,” he said.

“Obviously, if we have a number of mini-soccer teams being created then we need to make sure that there are the pitches and facilities there for them.”

He is also keen to improve the quality of coaching.

“We have a number of really good quality coaches but we are also looking to support and mentor those and ensure there is a pathway for them to develop as well,” he said.

Goodwin’s excellent understanding of the demands of his job has, no doubt, been helped by his local knowledge.

“Many people will probably know my connection with the local area,” he said. “I am originally from Hay-on-Wye but moved over to Gloucestershire for university and now I’m looking forward to making that move back into Herefordshire.

“I studied sport education at the University of Gloucestershire which was teaching and coaching.

“I then moved into referee development for four-and-a-half years in Gloucestershire supporting around 800 football referees and increasing the number of referees on the local parks but also looking at development programmes there.

“Then, I came into Herefordshire to head up the strategy here.

“I’m also doing my masters degree in sport management and leadership just to ensure that we have the right skills and to continue with my development to be able to develop football at a local level.”

He maintains an active involvement with the game through his own refereeing which sees him take charge of games at Step Four, the level at which Westfields play.

“I really enjoy my refereeing — everyone finds a level where they are comfortable,” he said.

“It’s about giving something back to the game and I am really enjoying that.

“If you don’t enjoy then you wouldn’t do it.”

In the short-term, he is also working to encourage footballers at both ends of the age spectrum.

A coaching course for four-to-seven-year-olds was due to get under way at Hereford Academy last weekend.

And, in the early part of the summer, there will be a veterans league starting which is aimed, principally, at the over-40s.

“The league would provide an 11-a-side fixture twice a month and shorter games which are only 35 minutes each way, the league would also allow the use of roll-on, roll-off substitutions,” he said.

“All games would be officiated by a qualified referee and two assistants and be played at a central 3G venue to easing the burden on a secretary allowing the players to just turn up and enjoy their football.”

Generally, however, he is pleased with his first four months in the job and sees exciting times ahead for the game in the county.

“The response from the local footballing public has been extremely positive,” he said. “Now it’s a case of looking at the processes and finding out what the footballing public of Herefordshire want and supporting how they want to develop local football.”

Details of the consultation event, the veterans’ league and coaching for four-seven-year-olds are available by emailing Roger.

Goodwin@Herefordshire or by calling the HFA on (01432) 342179.