'Volunteers get us out playing sport'
ADAM Lowthorpe appreciates more than most the hard work put in behind the scenes to make sure the East Riding FA leagues run so smoothly.
The chief executive of the association is responsible for ensuring its 1,200 teams benefit from well-organised leagues every week.
And Lowthorpe, a former Hull City defender, admits his eyes have been opened to the tireless work done by volunteers behind the scenes.
"It's only now I have quit playing that I appreciate how much work goes into the preparations for games," Lowthorpe told the Mail.
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"I didn't do enough when I was playing to thank them for all their hard work. Teams turn up and expect everything to be ready for them to play.
"For that reason, it is important we never miss an opportunity to thank the volunteers for giving up their time to make sure everything is organised for the teams.
"There is so much legislation and regulation for them to go through before they can be approved.
"They are key individuals without whom football as we know it today would not exist.
"They make sure funds are available for new kits, referees are provided and coaches are qualified to manage teams."
Lowthorpe hopes the volunteers are rewarded with nominations in the Sporting Champions Awards.
And with 1,200 sides under their jurisdiction, Lowthorpe hopes teams will be encouraged to nominate themselves.
"Awards can inspire greatness. It's important to recognise good work throughout the season and not just the winners at the end of the campaign," he said.
"I would encourage as many teams and clubs to enter these awards as possible."
Lowthorpe feels the time is right for clubs to benefit from the success of the East Riding FA.
Participation continues to rise, with up to 30 new teams included this season.
Lowthorpe is proud anyone who wants to play the beautiful game has an opportunity.
"This year we have two disabled divisions in light of the interest generated by the Paralympics," Lowthorpe said.
"There are six teams in each of the divisions to go with the other leagues from under-7s through to veterans, male and female.
"Whoever you are there is an opportunity. If people can't commit to a league, they are invited to participate in the Get-in programme, which encourages games whenever players want to play a game.
"It could be the first tentative step towards getting involved."