I became President of Matamata Swifts Association Football Club back in November 2009. This was after years of involvement with the club in a playing, coaching and management committee capacity.

I wrote the following, not long after taking up the position:

‘At the recent Matamata Swifts AGM I was elected President of the club, which is a fairly logical move, I guess. Yep, the time is right for me to step out from under the cloaks of others and take up the primary leadership role. To be honest this is not a natural or entirely comfortable position for me, given my personality type and mode of operation, but they say if you believe in something enough you can do anything. So, here goes…

It’s clear that in life, timing is everything, so I just hope I’ve got this one right. There is so much potential for football in the Matamata community, built on the back of the great work of many people over a number of years. I am confident that the management committee elected for 2010 is the best mix of administrative talent this club has ever had. It certainly is in the time I’ve been involved.

That potential, when turned into potent reality, should see the Swifts start to really fly across all levels. We’re looking at an exciting facility development project and a much needed coach and player development programme. Both those projects should see significant progress in 2010. We have the not insignificant challenge of re-entering the Northern League, re-branded as the Northern Region Football League (NRFL). And we’re all waiting to see what sort of explosion there is going to be off the back of World Cup qualification.

It’s my belief this club will be a very different beast in 12 months time. It can’t not be.’

Swifts scarf

It’s interesting taking a look back. For a start, it’s not as cringe worthy as I’d have thought. That’s a good start. And it’s positive. I struggle to keep positive all the time as I’m the sort of person whose natural state is to take things very, very personally (although with plenty of self talk, along with a couple of years involved running a football club, I’ve managed to tone that down a bit…). So I’m glad I was able to be positive.

We did well in our first year back in the NRFL. Almost too well. Our second year wasn’t quite as flash.

Our exciting facility development project and much needed coach and player development programme are still struggling to gain momentum. That management committee I was so proud of has gone through a number of changes and now, just over two years later, looks very different to what it did then. Having said that, as in 2009 I am very optimistic with my current management team. I’ve learnt that, as the leader of the group it’s my job to keep it that way.

I guess one of the big things I’ve discovered over the last couple of years is that trying to run a small, volunteer sporting organisation is very different to running a business of comparable size.

“Well, duh,” you might, quite rightly, say.

But hear me out. I subscribe, among many things, to Einstein’s definition of insanity. You know the saying: “Continuing to do what you’ve always done but expecting different results,” (or something to that effect).

So I’ve tried to do things differently. The things I’ve tried to do differently are, mostly, the sort of things not so obvious to the average punter. The theory is to build the base. But it’s been a struggle. And slow. So very slow. Just when I think we’re getting there something else gets in the way. We’re always struggling to find enough of the right sort of people to run the projects we need. Resources are always stretched. There is always so much that could be done, if only we had the time…

I have a very clear vision for my club and get frustrated when I can’t achieve what I’d like to as quickly as I’d like. This is my club and has been since I was old enough to run around after a football. It’s in my blood, but it’s hard all the same.

A while back someone asked me, “What drives you?” Basically they wanted to know why I do what I do at this football club.

I scrambled around for an answer but, what I eventually came up with, I think, sums it up nicely. With Matamata Swifts AFC, I want to do something that hasn’t been done before. Football is my thing, so that’s the vehicle I’ve chosen for this to play out. I think it would be such a cool story for our small town to have a team playing in the top league in the country, at first class facilities, with a conveyor belt of young talent playing football ‘The Matamata Way’.

Yeah, I know. It’ll be tough. And we’re a fair way from realising that vision. There have been times when I’ve thought it would be the easiest thing in the world to walk away. Others have. But this is my challenge.

All this talk of struggle, obstacles and challenges should not hide the good things our club has been able to achieve over the last few years. We have come a long way in the last decade. I still remember struggling to field one team on a Saturday, in a joke league, with players who barely trained and a threadbare management committee. So I’ve seen rock bottom.

We have, slowly but steadily, built up a set of tools to manage what we’re doing (I’ll share these in a future post). We promote the club well, have a great local profile and community support and have among the best online presence of any club in the country.

Pat on the back for that. We HAVE done well.

Now it’s time to go again. And I want to be involved in that as well.