The second instalment of Abi Ticehurst’s new interview series ‘Off the Pitch’, see’s our women’s football correspondent talks to Burghfield’s club secretary, Yvonne Mattos.
When I first spoke to Yvonne, she told me she was the club secretary at Burghfield, but the reality is, she’s worn just about every hat at the club you can think of. Her tenure at the club started off in somewhat tragic circumstances as the death of her first husband, in 1994, catapulted her into her first role at Burghfield. “At the time he was running one of the first U6 age groups. My son and his friends were in his team, so in a moment of madness I decided I could run the team – with no idea of football!”
Despite the pandemic putting a halt to many coaching courses, many have access to the FA Playmaker and Level 1 online these days, Yvonne wasn’t afforded such an opportunity when she first started out, and it came with its own challenges, “So I went on a referees course – I failed the first time, but didn’t give up and did the course again, [it was] really all just to understand the game.” and from there she managed the team for seven years, successfully going up a division each year.
She took a pause in her managerial career when her eldest son played for the county football team but continued to support the squad from the sidelines, but it wasn’t long before the gaffer bug bit once more and in 2004, she “managed the same team for their final year before entering the adult football leagues.”
Yvonne has been lucky enough to see many of her players grow from young boys in her first endeavours coaching into players in the senior sides and coaches themselves, many of whom have remained at the club. A testament to the family club Burghfield is, this is no more evident than when looking at the side’s Sunday first team, who are managed by Yvonne’s son, Liam Gillis, who is also the club’s vice-chairman.
Getting stuck in
That year would be the last Yvonne would coach before she switched roles, as in 2014 she was approached by the club, who were in need of committee members, and she was the perfect fit having been at the club for 20 years at this point. But even for Yvonne, the direction this new role would take came as a surprise, “Next thing I know I’m club secretary” and with that, it brings us to the present day and Yvonne’s current ventures.
Yvonne is responsible for 42 teams, at the club from as young as their under 4’s teams right up to their six men’s teams, as well the introduction of their first women’s team and a walking football side. Day to day activities for Yvonne involve liaising with the various leagues and collecting player fines, no mean feat when you’re dealing with 550 registered players.
She’s not afraid to get stuck in either, “you will find me running our refreshments tent over the weekend of our tournament and shouting support at our local games”. The Burghfield tournament is huge in the club calendar as Yvonne explains, “We run the tournament to raise funds so our membership doesn’t increase and it pays for winter training” and she plays a pivotal role in organising the tournament which sees 240 teams enter from U7 to U18, as well as men’s and women.
As expected, secretarial duties for such a thriving club come with their own challenges and that often means people power, for Yvonne “getting volunteers to help at the tournament” is the biggest difficulty and she feels there is still one thing they’re missing, even after 32 years, and that’s their own ground.
But it’s evident that despite the adversities that come with juggling the running of such a large club that it, “has grown from strength to strength but we are still a big family that I am very passionate about” and for Yvonne it’s come full circle with four grandchildren, who she “hopes will carry on our family legacy as Burghfield FC is close to my heart”.