December 4 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 17, 2013
South Woodford football coach Andy Russell admitted he was ‘knocked off his feet’ after receiving an award to mark the Football Association’s 150th anniversary last week, but was back to work straight away.
The 51-year-old was commemorated for his outstanding contribution to football over the past 26 years at the Buckingham Palace service.
When the former market trader first heard the news he was gobsmacked, after initially receiving a regional award from the Amateur Football Association (AFA) for his work with Winchmore Hill.
“When I had the regional award from the AFA that was enough for me personally,” said Russell. “I was chuffed to bits because it is nice to be recognised.
“I then just got an email from the FA saying please save this date. It did get to a stage where I thought it was a set up. Weeks went by but I chased it a little bit and we found out that it was going to be at Buckingham Palace with Prince William handing out the awards. I was shocked and amazed.”
Russell first got into coaching at the age of 25 having worked as a market trader.
Ever since then he’s had the coaching bug, but never thought “in a million years” that it would end up with an FA award.
“When I first got into coaching I didn’t think anything like this would happen in a million years,” he added. “You put your heart and soul into it. It’s more than just a job to me.”
All of Russell’s time is devoted to the sport, as he runs Football 1st coaching courses with wife Anna, having previously worked with Redbridge College.
And after enjoying a wonderful day at the royal venue, it was a bit of a culture shock to get back to coaching the very next day.
“The whole day was fantastic,” he said. “Me and my wife arrived at the gates and tourists were coming to take photographs of the car as if we were famous. I had to just keep checking am I really here?”
“In my mentoring role, a couple of coaches were doing their level two mock assessments and I had to cover one in Park Hill School on Tuesday, something I wouldn’t have done for a long time.
“That was the bit that had me crashing back down to earth.”
Russell is running half term coaching sessions from October 26‑November 1 at Barley Lane Primary School in Chadwell Heath for five to 12-year-olds.
In addition, he also runs Saturday morning classes at the school. For more information contact 07834 386814.