Give your vote of thanks to Paul Graham

Vote for Paul Graham as your national FA People's Award champion 2017.

 

It is with great delight that we can announce that Cheshire grassroots hero, Paul Graham, Secretary of the Chester and Wirral Football League, is one of six people nominated for the 2017 FA McDonald's People's Award.

Known as the Outstanding Contribution to Community Football award in local and regional rounds it is a very special award that celebrates exceptional volunteering efforts and carries the added prestige of being voted for by the public.

To vote for Paul Graham please click HERE.

Paul Graham is the League Secretary of the Chester and Wirral Football League, the league is 123 years old and even with the national decline in adult football they have never been in a stronger position under Paul's stewardship. The league has a membership of 71 teams with plans to grow to up to 100 teams for season 2017/18, there was only 22 teams when he joined, an unbelievable turnaround in the current climate.

Paul ensures that the clubs are at the heart of what the league do.  At league meetings, he is regularly heard saying "tell us what you would like to see in the league and we will do it".  This has led to a simplified one entry fee policy, no fines and securing Chester FC as a venue for the league's cup finals each year. This also led to the integration of new formats in to the league such as veterans' football and Flexi Elevens, recognising the need to embrace change, which has brought 40 new teams into the league. 

When managers have left teams Paul has stepped in and taken the administration burden and helped to recruit a new manager or merge the club with another if necessary.  His resilience has seen him secure and maintain exceptionally cheap rates for grass pitches with the local council and by allowing flexible kick off times in the league he has been able to secure two 3G pitches on Saturday afternoons for clubs to play home fixtures.

Where other leagues have failed to adapt and fallen by the wayside, Paul's passion and commitment has a huge impact on sustaining adult football in Chester and Wirral.  In the past two years he has guaranteed new goals posts for grass pitches in Blacon and worked with Sport England to ensure grass pitches have not been built on for housing and lobbied the council to reinstate two high quality grass pitches on Chester Racecourse.

As running the league started to get tough with teams dropping out, along with the personal tragedy Paul has been through this year with the loss of two close family members, including his daughter, he could have easily turned his back on grassroots football. Yet his positive, never give up attitude, along with his vision for the league has been infectious to anybody who has worked alongside him.  He is a real inspiration to us all and a true hero of grassroots football and the local community.

Please vote for Paul for the national FA People's Award, it only take a few clicks.  To do so, please click HERE.

You will need your FAN number and password to vote, alternatively you can vote using your Facebook, Twitter or Google account.

The deadline to vote is Sunday 30th July.

To get a real insight in to Paul's character and passion for grassroots football, Cheshire FA had a video produced this year to exemplify the Chester and Wirral League as good practice, which he features in throughout: 

 

Once Upon a Smile
FA Elevens