Interview with Child Welfare Officer 'Paul Yaxley'

When did you join Athenry FC? What roles have you had?
I first became involved in Athenry FC when my oldest started playing in the U11 league (which they went on to win with Coach Pat Gavin, Tony Byrne & Paul Whelan). It was about 6 years ago when Michelle had the reins, that I took up the role of Child Welfare Officer for the Club. It was a fairly new role at the Club at the time and myself and Michelle attended the relevant courses to get this up and running. Since moving to Ireland over 20 years ago, I became interested in local soccer supporting both Galway Utd and Mervue Utd. My oldest son played with Mervue Utd for a number of years before moving back to Athenry FC. I also volunteer as a Steward at Galway Utd home games in Eamonn Deacy Park.

What are your fondest memories at the football club?
Bringing the boys down to training on a Saturday morning and having a chat with the other parents and helping out with the younger members of the club. It was a busy time at the Club and I always felt a great welcome. Watching all three of the my lads develop and continue to enjoy the sport under the guidance of their coaches, Paul /Owen (U14) and Ritchie / Keith (U12), Tony (U18) and Mark (U21). The encouragement and commitment that these coaches have given to these teams over the last number of seasons has being exceptional. Their hard work is really beginning to pay off and shows that it is not all about winning matches but taking part, enjoying the game and improving their skills.

As the Child Welfare Officer, how has your experience been in this role?
It can be very challenging at times and rewarding as well. What might not be a priority for you, could be for someone else. It is all about finding a happy medium and balance. You cannot please everyone but the majority of people are understanding and things get resolved. At the end of the day, I can only try my best.

What made you decide to join the committee?
I went to an AGM at the Club and got nominated for the role. Before I knew it I was on board and am still here today.

As a committee member, what is the hardest part?
I suppose dealing with so many different individuals, all wanting to do the best for the Club, it can get a bit heated at times. But at the end of the day we are all working towards the one goal.

What do you enjoy most about being on the committee?
We all have our opinions and sometimes we argue and sometimes not. But we are all in it together and just get on with it. At the end of the day we are all volunteers.

In your opinion, what are the challenges of fundraising in a town with many sports and clubs?
It is hard for businesses to support clubs, no matter what sport you are in year in / year out. Any help the club receives from both members and businesses is gratefully appreciated.

What are your ambitions for the next three years?
For the next year or so to take a bit of time out but still support the club the best way I can. We will see after that.

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