HEREFORDSHIRE FA's new chief executive officer hopes that the enforced break in play will shown people how important the game is to them.

Alan Darfi has recently taken on the head role at the Herefordshire FA (HFA).

He hopes that the break has shown how important football is from a sporting, social and health benefits point of view.

Darfi says that in his short time in charge he has been 'extremely impressed with the passion and dedication' of people involved in the game in the county.

"We are doing all that we can to provide support and guidance to our clubs and participants and, like everyone else, are desperate for football to return, when it is safe to do so," said Darfi.

"Taking that aside, from the point of view of the HFA, there have been some huge changes over the past few years, with the completion of our 3G pitch facility and the recent departure of both Jim and Val Lambert, who most people involved in football will have known in some form.

"I have inherited a fantastic team who are passionate about their roles, which is a huge positive.

"Across the county, it was great to see a number of our clubs challenging at the top of their respective regional leagues. It was really disappointing that we were unable to successfully assist the push for their leagues to be finished in a way that would see them rightfully promoted, but I would like to think that they will all be in similar positions next season and hopefully joined by a few others.

"Whilst the current restrictions have limited my ability to meet as many people from across the game as I would have liked to, I have been extremely impressed with the passion and dedication of those that I have, which again is clearly a positive."

Darfi worked for the FA in London for eight years before moving to Leeds as a sports solicitor.

He has also worked for West Riding County FA before moving to the Rugby Football League as director of projects and legal.

He says the opportunity to move into grassroots football in Herefordshire was an 'absolute no-brainer'.

The HFA opened their 3G facility at the County Ground earlier this year with Lads Club playing their home matches on the pitch.

Darfi says that the newest 3G pitches provide a 'fantastic playing experience' while also being available in all weather.

"Whilst there must always be a space in the game for grass pitches, and we will do all that we can to assist clubs maintain and develop these, the importance of having 3G facilities cannot be underestimated," Darfi added.

"Unlike grass pitches, which can be affected by weather and have limited usage each day, 3G pitches allow year-round access to significantly increased numbers of players.

"Whilst in the past these pitches have been criticised, the newer surfaces provide a fantastic playing experience at all levels. We still have a number of slots available on our pitch at the County Ground, and I would urge anyone who has not played on one before to come and give it a go, when football gets back up and running.

"Whilst it is crucially important to ensure that, where players want to do so, the ability to play 11 versus 11 football in its traditional format is always available.

"I am also a big believer in the power of alternative forms of the game, such as walking football, small-sided (such as the Herefordshire FA Super 6’s) and flexible options, which may involve shorter matches or the ability to drop down to 10 versus 10, if teams struggle for numbers.

"From what I have seen in my short time so far there are some fantastic things happening in football in the county.

"I think we should be proud of these and celebrate them more."

A shortage of referees has previously been an issue in the county.

However, Darfi says that they 90 per cent of all matches in the county this season had a referee.

He added: "We have also seen an increase in both female match officials and those from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background, which is hugely positive.

"It is unfortunately the case that up and down the country match officials are, on occasion, treated inappropriately by players and fans.

"Whenever this happens it is wrong and we will provide appropriate support."

Despite Herefordshire leagues being concluded for the season the HFA have suspended a decision on the outcome of the county cups following a split vote.

"Opinion on this is split right down the middle at present, with 50 per cent wanting to finish 2019/2020 and look ahead to next season and 50 per cent wanting to wait a little longer before deciding," added Darfi.

"We will therefore review where we are in four weeks. I would love to be in a position where we can finish some cups ahead of next season, as I think this could well be the pick-me-up that everyone will need when we come out of the other side of these unprecedented and truly challenging times for all."