Grassroots football can only be as good as the volunteers within it. They are the backbone of our game however sometimes, they go unnoticed. The BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero award was designed to ensure as a nation, we look beyond the usual suspects and reward the volunteers making difference to their sports in their local communities.
David Reader, Chairman of Bedfont Sports FC, has won the BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero Award for London and, on Sunday, will be representing his club and Middlesex football when he attends the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards to find out whether he’ll be named the BBC Get Inspired Unsung Hero of the Year.
After the local vicar approached him 33 years ago and asked him to coach football to the local boys, Dave has devoted his life to the sport as a volunteer - coaching and managing children's football teams. He set up Bedfont Sports 15 years ago and has completed the seemingly impossible (at the time) task of transforming the abandoned site which he inherited into one of the most impressive football facilities in the County.
To do this, Dave not only raised £2.5m of funding to bring the derelict site up to standard, but also spent many long days and cold nights himself making the facility fit for the 12 pitches, 29 teams and boxing and martial arts classes it hosts today. All his hard work off-the-field has built a solid foundation for the club to progress on it too. As well as developing a number of fantastic players over the years, the club has enjoyed won a number of honours including the Middlesex FA Senior Youth Cup and Premier Cup.
Between Dave and his son Terry, Bedfont Sports has become one of the most sought-after facilities in the County, firmly establishing itself as a community hub where children can enjoy playing the beautiful game.
Former Middlesex FA Chief Executive, Peter Clayton, said:
“I was delighted to be asked to contribute to this public recognition of Dave (Mr Bedfont Sports) Reader’s work for grassroots football in Middlesex. I first met Dave 15 years ago when he asked me for advice and help in securing funding for his project. This, when he took it over, was a virtually derelict park pavilion and a couple of football pitches which were overgrown and like scrubland and which the local Council were only too keen to get rid of. He didn’t really need help, though, as his persuasive skills soon enabled him to access funding from various bodies and with those grants, in the intervening 20 years he has transformed Bedfont Sports Ground to the superb facility that it is today. In the early years, he even slept on-site so as, in his own words, ‘he wouldn’t waste time travelling to and from home and could get on with the building work’ What a hero!!”
Leigh O’Connor, Middlesex FA Chief Executive added:
"I am delighted that Dave has received the national recognition that his hard work of the years deserves. What he’s built at Bedfont is nothing short of heroic so it’s fitting that he’ll be flying the flag for Middlesex football in the Unsung Hero category."
You can watch the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards on BBC One and the BBC website this Sunday 17th December from 6.45pm. The full BBC report on Dave's achievement can be seen below:
watch the video