We took the decision to apply for the LOBL for the 23/24 season, pretty early during the previous season.
From the outset, the vibe from the league was very appealing.The values underpinning what the league stands for, and that the clubs and match officials sign up to. They sounded almost too good to be true, though enticing at the same time.
As an institutionally groomed grassroots football sceptic, I dutifully approached pre-season almost on auto pilot. Feeling the need to stay loyal, to the hard-core group that had remained with us for more than 10 years (some even longer)
Pre season started well, with good numbers & plenty of new faces. A small spark reignited inside me, feeding from the enthusiasm around me. While at the same time secretly, inside, feeling tired and longing for a release from the responsibility that we all feel being involved in grassroots football. Slowly, those feelings subsided.
The enjoyment started to reappear, not because the team was winning (mostly!). For one, we now had enough players to call ourselves a squad. Secondly, because the hard-core group I mentioned earlier grew into new committee members. Taking on, training courses to ensure our compliance as a charter standard club. Plus, additional duties to alleviate the work load of the day to day and match day tasks. All of which had weighed heavily on my shoulders, over recent seasons.
Just two weeks before the start of this season, a number of quality players and more importantly good people fortunately decided to come on board. Combined with the existing group, we had a pretty decent squad.
The 1st league meeting, was something that I was not looking forward to based on previous experience. However, the vibe was different. The experience was different, it was inclusive, enjoyable and motivating. In addition it was fun and instructive, attended by match officials as well as club representatives. A few weeks before the meeting, we were added to a league WhatsApp group consisting of the club secretaries for each club. Unbelievably to me, they were receiving guidance from the league and actually helping and supporting each other. Wow! A concept I had not encountered before in grassroots football!
Six games in, we are unbeaten which is brilliant. More importantly though, the reality has so far lived up to the billing. We are all enjoying the experience, playing against very competitive teams with a sportsman like approach. Officiated by like minded men that administer common sense along with applying the laws of the game, with an understanding that we we will all make mistakes and so enjoying the games themselves.
So far, so good then!
We’ve been fortunate with the decisions taken and direction we have chosen to follow, hard work and a bit of luck keeps us unbeaten so far But! Such is the quality and strength of the other teams in our division and the league as a whole, we are fully aware that could change on any given Saturday!
We are grateful for the opportunity to compete, and will work hard to continue to support the principles that this league is founded upon.