FF 75 – Plymouth Parkway Football Club

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Plymouth Parkway Football Club

Plymouth Parkway FC has made a fantastic start to their season this time with a record breaking run in their league. Football Focus Magazine recently caught up with their Chairman Mark Russell to gain an insight into their success.  

Involvement 

He started by telling us about his involvement at the club, saying, “I got involved with Plymouth Parkway in April 2016, when I was asked if I would be interested in merging my previous club, Bar Sol Ona, with Plymouth Parkway.  

The two clubs had been growing at a reasonable rate for some time and they undoubtedly had the potential for further growth too. However, the merger was a fantastic opportunity for everybody involved, as it provided an even greater scope for growth and improved our chances of future success. 

As a result, the decision of whether or not to merge with Plymouth Parkway was an easy one to make and to ensure that my on-going involvement remained meaningful, I was appointed as Chairman in June 2016.” 

The Role  

“In many ways, the challenges of the role are the most rewarding as there is nothing quite as fulfilling, for example, as trying to get new sponsors on-board and successfully doing so. Having said that, it is still a relatively stressful process and it does not always go the way we’d like it to.  

Another particularly difficult challenge is finding reliable volunteers for match days. A lot of fans are enthusiastic and want to get involved, but sometimes life gets in the way or the day comes and they don’t quite feel up to it. It’s unfortunate, but these things happen and we just have to get on with it. Match days are busy enough as it is and you just have to know which issues can be resolved and which you have to work around.” 

Support   

“Fortunately, we get great support from the fans so even when everything is going wrong we still have them cheering us on. We also have the unwavering support of various volunteers, such as the club secretary, Genny Turner, and groundsman, Garry Turner, volunteers on match days like Colin and Mike who help out regularly on the gate, Damon who will help out behind the bar and doing the announcements and Roy who looks after the security of the players and changing rooms.  

We also then have the committee including Genny, Mark, Gez and Jim who will jump in and do anything that needs doing on the day. Without them, everything would be considerably more difficult. I really have no idea how they get so much done.” 

Present 

“The mood at the club is incredibly positive. We’re all a generally upbeat bunch anyway, but we have so much to be pleased and proud about at the moment. For instance, we have had a record-breaking start to the season with fifteen league games unbeaten, and we’ve also had wins in the League cup and the FA Vase. 

The season has started fantastically, we could not be more pleased. Obviously, with fifteen straight wins, we’ve broken the league record for games won in a row, but we’ve also won every other game played since the 2nd game of the season. 20 wins out of 20 games is a really amazing accomplishment for the club and its players, and we’re all eager to keep the streak going for as long as possible. We’re all feeling very motivated.   

Apart from seeing how far we can take our winning streak, the club definitely has the league title in its sights and we’re all working toward it as a collective goal. We also intend to have as good a run in the League Cup, Devon Bowl and FA Vase as we can muster. It’s really exciting to see how much the team is pushing itself at the moment, so I’m sure we’ll do ourselves proud.” 

Youth 

“Youth football is an important part of the club’s overall ethos. Not only does it contribute to the future of the club by getting aspirational young players involved early, it also benefits the kids by helping them improve their physical fitness.  

We currently have over 120 children involved in the Park Academy with seven youth teams in total, and we also hold a training academy for children from as young as four years old. Many of our players started playing football in teams such as these, so we fully appreciate how important youth football can be to a child’s development, as well as the team’s. 

We are also very keen to develop young coaches at the club who can help support the club and we have a number already coming through, which helps keep the coaching up to date and interesting.  

Currently, our youth setup only caters to players under 12 years old. However, we have already begun taking steps that will allow teens to continue playing with us. As we’ve said, the future of our club is tied to young players such as these, which is why we’re doing everything we can to foster their skills so that they can graduate to adult teams in the future.” 

Community 

“We all consider Parkway to be a community club. One example of how we like to get members of the local community involved in club activities is by regularly encouraging children from the academy to come along and watch games. During big games we even like to offer youth players the opportunity to act as the team mascots for the day, allowing them to get even more involved than they otherwise would. 

We also like to work closely with the local colleges, we offer students the opportunity to gain experience by filming the games and producing highlights of the games, which they can then use for their studies, but also to develop their skills.” 

Challenges/Ambitions 

“All football clubs have the same challenge really, and that is to improve their abilities and at the very least maintain their position. Parkway has these challenges to face, but none of us feel like we’d be doing ourselves justice by merely maintaining our current position. The biggest challenge facing Parkway over the next five years will be gaining promotions to higher leagues. We all want it and know our players are capable of playing great football, so while it may be an ambitious goal, we’re definitely capable of attaining it.   

In the short term, our biggest hurdle has been, and still is, the travelling required to attend league games away. This will only become more of an issue as we progress through the leagues, but even so, it’s a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things and it certainly won’t put any of us off.   

Parkway is an ambitious club, which is why in the next five years we would like to progress into the Southern League and have our sights set on becoming Plymouth’s 2nd biggest football team. As mentioned previously, we also want to expand our youth academy by allowing players in their teens to continue playing at the club, thereby ensuring Parkway’s future.”

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