Cornwall FA were delighted to visit Tom Stephens to present the Rising Star of the Year Award as part of the FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Awards 2021.
The Rising Star of the Year Award recognises those who make a real contribution to football in the community. Someone who is a role model, who acts responsibly, and encourages and supports others.
Tom, a youth player at St Agnes AFC, was required to volunteer as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award and offered to help support some of the youth team at St Agnes AFC. As Tom’s volunteering evolved so did his enjoyment helping out at the club and he progressed to further volunteer within the club’s disability team (St Agnes DisAbility AFC) where he demonstrated a natural ability to work with adults and youngsters with a whole range of disabilities.
As lockdown came into effect, Tom continued to try and support the club’s disability provision which included Tom creating handmade cards and handwrote letters to both the youth and adult players to keep in touch and help them feel connected over an unprecedented time which was greatly received by the players. He also took part in the club’s physical challenge fundraiser which was completed over lockdown to help keep players active.
Tom passion for helping the club has also extended to completing the BT Playmaker by England Football in a bid to help develop his ability to provide an enjoyable experience for the players he works with.
When asked why Tom gives up his time to volunteer at the club, he said, “I give up my time as it allows me to develop new relationships with others and helping them develop a skill that is so important to them is the very rewarding. I also find it is something that stretches me (thinking of fun games to organise for 5 year olds was a challenge!) and noticing improvements within myself gives me a great amount of satisfaction, for example realising that my idea isn't working out and having to adapt the drill so that it works better”.
Exploring what Tom enjoys the most about his volunteering at St Agnes AFC he added, “seeing smiles upon the face of others and knowing that I have done something to make them feel happy is what I enjoy most”.
When asking what winning the Rising Star of the Year Award meant to Tom, he explained, “I think the fact that people find my contribution important enough to nominate me for the award is amazing and winning it makes it all the more sweeter. It will motivate me to keep on volunteering and coaching”.
Cornwall FA would like to congratulate Tom on winning the Rising Star of the Year Award.