You may know that the HFA has a Board of 12 Directors, including 4 Independents, but do you know who they are?
In the first of a new ‘Meet the Board’ series, we sit down with the HFA Chair, Steve Willmot, to find out a bit more about him and his role at the HFA.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED AT THE HFA?
I joined the HFA in 1985 and became a Board member in 2010. I became Vice Chair shortly afterwards and was elected Chair in 2017.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND PROFESSIONALLY AND IN FOOTBALL?
I played for Hereford Lads Club, Westfields, Holmer St Marys and Cotterell, who were a Sunday League team. I was secretary of the team and joined the Sunday League Management Committee where I subsequently became Chair of the League.
Professionally I worked as a Solicitor Legal Adviser in the Magistrates Courts and my job was to advise lay Magistrates on the law, practice, procedure and sentencing of offenders appearing in Court. I managed a team of 6 Legal Advisers and the work also involved sitting and advising in Youth and Family Courts and the licensing of public houses, nightclubs, off licences throughout Herefordshire. During over 40 years in the Court system I met a huge number of people from all walks of life in the County. I also obtained a Diploma in Management Studies where I studied HR, Finance and Project Management, together with a number of business-related subjects.
Just over 7 years ago I left the Court Service and became a trainer for Drink Drive Rehabilitation courses where clients who have been disqualified from driving for excess alcohol can obtain a 25% reduction in their ban by undertaking a 16-hour course. Most of the courses I run are in the Midlands or South Wales. Again, I meet a very wide variety of people from different backgrounds from all over the country. I also sit on School Appeals and act as Presiding Officer at all types of elections.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR ROLE AT THE HFA?
The role can be challenging but is always interesting and rewarding. In the last 5 years the HFA has changed hugely and we now offer football through our 3G pitch and elsewhere in a wide variety of settings such as Walking football, games for persons with a disability, Man v Fat, Veterans, Girls, Women, Boys, Adult, Super 6’s, Futsal, Armed Forces, Wildcats, Schools and more. We also run a Player Development Centre for Boys and Girls together with Hereford FC.
During the past 12 months we have encountered reduced funding from the FA and as a result we have firmly established a policy of income diversification to generate additional funding through sponsorship and partnership arrangements with local organisations. We have recently reopened our HQ at the County Ground which will result in brand new facilities including meeting rooms available for hire, and new changing rooms which will be available to enable greater use of our 3G pitch.
We ran a newfootball festival inthe summer and are supporting local teams to improve their grounds and facilities. We are also hoping that the Referees Association can be re-established to help support our local referees. It is also expected that the County League Premier Division will become larger and stronger by virtue of being a Step 7 league.
Safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults is an essential part of the HFA work and we have recently passed an annual external assessment by the NSPCC.
We now have 4 Independent Non-Executive Directors on the Board who bring a wide variety of experience and help take the HFA forward. We have also successfully adopted the FA's Code of Governance.
We have a Disciplinary Panel that sits when necessary with two independent members. There are also monthly Board meetings whilst Council meetings take place 3-4 times per year.
I work closely with Alan Darfi our outstanding Chief Executive Officer since March 2020, and there is virtual daily contact between us on the huge variety of initiatives I have outlined. I thoroughly enjoy being involved in all these areas of work which are improving the football offering to thousands of people throughout Herefordshire.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU BRING TO THE HFA?
I have extensive experience of football in Herefordshire from playing and being secretary of a local club. I know a large number of ex and current players and referees and enjoy watching local games throughout the County on a weekly basis. In addition I have a good knowledge of HR, finance and business from being involved with the HFA for nearly 40 years and from my professional career. More importantly, I am passionate about the benefits of football and work hard with the rest of the Board to ensure football is available for all across the County.