Ripley Village Football Club
Ripley Village FC is a fine example of a club working together to provide local people an opportunity to enjoy the game. Football Focus Magazine recently caught up with Club Representative Lee Cooke to find out more about the good work that they’ve been doing lately.
He told us, “I joined in the summer of 2016 following a successful spell at another local club. The chairman approached me to assist in taking the club forward and as a club we managed to achieve the clubs joint highest league position in our long and rich history, dating back 128 years.”
“Managing a grassroots football club always has various challenges, from player disagreements through to finding club sponsors. Every week brings new challenges, selecting the best squad of players for each fixture and trying to keep everyone at the club happy. We are lucky at Ripley that everyone is in it for the club and do their best but it is still difficult to choose the 14 players who we think will win us the 3 points on a Saturday afternoon.”
“The club has a real positive feel good factor, something we had a few years ago and this comes from good people being around the club, whether they are behind the scenes or the players themselves. It’s good to see everyone working together to give local lads good football.”
“The off season was very busy and my phone was pretty much glued to my hand, recruiting new players, retaining existing players as well as arranging preseason training and fixtures which can be quite a lengthy process to organise the venues and officials.
I’ve been lucky that the rest of the management team support the decisions being made and have great input to what we all do. We are one club and it’s important to involve everyone. We are building on already great links we have in the community and this is important for me to continue to have these links with what is a great village.”
“Each and every season, I would like to improve on the previous season. With that in mind, we want to finish 5th or higher and get past the first round in the cup competitions. These are realistic expectations with the squad we are building but won’t be plain sailing as our league, The Surrey Elite Intermediate League is a very strong league. Apart from on the pitch, I would like the club to continue having an active social scene and grow more links with the local community.”
“We are fortunate to have a youth team (U15) be part of our club for the coming season and we look forward to adding further sides over the coming years. We have actively encouraged bringing younger players into the club and a highlight of last season would be having four 16/17 year olds in a match day squad towards the end of the season and going into this new season with many 16-20 year olds being introduced to the club and adult football.”
“We actively work hard with our younger players during training and games to protect them as they mature into senior football. We offer encouragement and guidance all the way through their experience with ourselves and when they are ready to progress into higher football, we will assist them with the contacts we have.”
“As briefly mentioned, we are heavily involved in the local community as a number of our committee are local people. We are always looking at ways to increase our community links and supporting local businesses and charities. We are currently in talks about holding a charity event over the Christmas period. Only recently we supported a local event for charity in aid of one of our local residents.”
“Grassroots football numbers have dwindled over the years due to several reasons and we aim to continue to grow as a club, add additional youth teams to assist the club longer term with players progressing through. We are in an area where we have many local clubs all vying for the same players.
We want to offer our players and all involved in the club an enjoyable football experience which will prolong their stay with us and in turn, invite others to be a part of our journey. In this way, we hope to meet the challenges that sadly, other clubs are struggling with. We are 128 years old for a reason and this will continue long into the future.”
“We want to be at the forefront of everything local and to be as successful as we can at the level we are able to participate at. We share our facilities with the local cricket team which restricts promotion however success isn’t always about winning on the pitch (which is important), but we want to continue growing as a club, nurturing a youth system and working with the local business and charities to be a truly community club.”