In recent weeks we had taken many of our friends across the grassroots game in Middlesex by surprise as we began to advertise our latest vacancy. This surprise perhaps speaks for the high regards in which now outgoing Chief Executive, Leigh O'Connor is held to across our stakeholders. This was certainly reflected by those in the office when we were all told.
Leigh has been in varying roles across Middlesex FA for the past 22 years, culminating in his two most recent positions of County Development Manager and of course Chief Executive Officer, Leigh has made the decision to take his next step and we sat down with him to discuss in more detail his time at the County.
Leigh, after 22 Years of service, 5 of those years as CEO, and numerous other positions in the intervening 17 years, what is it that you will be doing next?
"In August, I will be joining The Football Association as a Regional Manager working with a number of County FA’s to develop and grow the game."
Our stakeholders are going to be shocked at your decision to move on from Middlesex FA, will they still be able to see you involved in Grassroots Football?
"Yes, I will still be involved in Middlesex Football, I volunteer as Club Secretary for an England Football Accredited Club and look forward to continuing to work with Middlesex FA to develop the club and ensure it continues to be at the heart of it's Community."
Having worked closely with so many clubs, volunteers, staff members and across so many projects, perhaps you could reflect on how things have changed within our Grassroots Football Community from your earliest memories at Middlesex FA?
"The whole game in Middlesex has become much more community focused, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to participate in a safe and inclusive way. We have seen the game grow in all areas which has required our Clubs, Leagues and Volunteers to adapt to new ways of working whilst ensuring the needs of the game are being met."
During your time in post, you have overseen some of the biggest changes & challenges in Middlesex FA’s history, our move to Rectory Park, the challenges of Covid, our Senior Cup Final at Brentford to name but a few, what will be your lasting memory from your time as CEO?
"The People I have worked with, the Middlesex Team of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to support the whole game in Middlesex and have helped to make the organisation a much more effective, customer facing, and relevant organisation that the game can relate to and engage with."
Obviously, you will be a huge loss for Middlesex FA, but having set out the 3 Year Strategy in 2021, what excites you most about the future for Middlesex FA as we move on without you?
"Middlesex is one of the most diverse counties in the country and our strategy will ensure that we are providing opportunities for everyone to get involved in football in a way that meets their needs. We also need to ensure that we use the technology available to us to reduce the administration burden on the game and ultimately to showcase the successes of Middlesex Football."
As you prepare to head to pastures new, have you had a chance to reflect on the past 22 years? What would be your proudest moment in that time?
"I’m most proud of the last 5 years as CEO. During this time, we have seen lots of change which has made Middlesex Football much more relevant and representative of the Middlesex community. By having a clear strategic plan, I know the Association will continue to provide unique, fun and engaging opportunities for everyone in Middlesex and continue to be at the heart of the community."
Lastly, do you have a message for the Middlesex Football Community?
"Thank you, for all the time you give up week in, week out to volunteer your time, providing opportunities for people to get involved in the game across Middlesex."
"Thank you, to the Middlesex FA Board and Council for all the support they have given me over the 22 years I have been involved, I wish you all the very best for the future."
"Lastly, to the Middlesex Staff, you do an amazing job in developing relationships and supporting everyone involved in Middlesex Football, thank you."
We're sure you will still have more questions, and we know this won't be the last time we hear from Leigh before he makes his move, but from all at Middlesex FA and everyone in our community, thank you for your support, dedication and care for the game in Middlesex these past 22 years.