‘You get out what you put in’ – Binfield under 12s manager Ben Churchill on the importance of grassroots football clubs

Ben Churchill is the manager of Binfield under 12s, the team his son Elbie plays for, and has been involved with the Moles for seven or eight seasons.

Ben sat down for a chat with me about his numerous roles at the club, why he loves what he does and what local football has given back to him.

Moley: We are talking all things Binfield this morning with Ben Churchill. Morning Ben, can you tell me about your role at Binfield Football Club?

Ben Churchill:  My role is ever-evolving. So initially I started off coaching my boy’s team at under sevens. They are now under 12 and going to under 13’s next season, and I’m also the Junior Secretary for the club. I think we have 30-32 teams the in the Youth section now. So, yeah, look after those guys, as well. And I think, I’m part of the management committee, possibly, that’s it, who knows [laughs]? It changes all the time. It’s exciting times what’s going on and it’s all really positive so yeah, all good.

Moley: Why do you love what you do at the club?

Ben Churchill:  I think it’s that sense of community. I think that is the real thing for me. When you’re at under seven’s, when you’ve got the boys and girls playing in Soccer School, you just stand there as a parent going: Okay, so this is all very nice and then, once you start building friendships and you see these faces down the club like Bob Chapple – some of the guys that have been there for a long time it builds a sense of community. I think it’s a big thing for me. We’re really lucky. Really lucky. I think that we’ve got a great club, and great facilities, lovely people. I think it’s that.

Without getting too deep and meaningful, my dad used to live away quite a lot when I was young and he never really watched me play football. So the thing for me, it was almost trying to give something back to Elbie, and he’s now got a really good group of football friends. He’s got school friends and other friendship groups for him. It’s just a sense of community, it’s huge for me. On match day to we coach the boys and then quite often, we’ll be down there for the first team game as well. So all the parents mingle, and the parents come down and are part of it. I just love it. I think it’s a really nice setup and the beer’s good.

Moley:  What’s your favourite thing about the club, would you say the same thing or was there something very specific?

Ben Churchill:  No, I think it’s a match day. Definitely, I think it’s a match day. Especially in the warmer months. Not so much in December and it’s pouring with rain or windy and horrible, but I think. Yeah, in early September, when it’s warm, you get the boys to play their game and then stay down at the club for the day and get the parents down. If it’s in the sunshine and the first team plays, a few beers, a Mole Burger. Obviously, for me, it’s that. It’s community. It’s just having just nice people around, it makes a huge difference. Really does.

Moley: Who do you rely on at the club / who’s your best mate at Binfield Football Club?

Ben Churchill: It’s a good question. When you sent that over, I did, I had little think about it, and I think it’s probably two. If I’m honest, Darren Beasley who’s my assistant coach, we were on the phone for probably half an hour last night, I was just chewing his ear off, basically moaning about this and that and all that type of good stuff. It’s tactics for the weekend and what we thought about that weekend’s game, what we’ve got in terms of plans for training on Wednesday. I would say probably Darren. He’s a bit rock bless him. He’s a good egg and looks after me and he’s a bit of a. I can moan at him he’ll moan back if needed but also Lewis Pike as well.

Binfield u12 Chargers.
Binfield u12 Chargers.

Lewis and I pretty much started at the club within a couple of weeks of each other and we helped were helping out with Soccer School. We were both taking the team and again I probably speak to Lewis on a weekly basis, we set the world to rights and whether that be the club or the, or the boys and girls teams that we coach now. So yeah, I’d say Darren and Lewis for sure.

Moley: Just going off piste slightly and Soccer School. Is that the gateway drug to Binfield Football Club?

Ben Churchill: 100% yeah, 100% it is yes. Bob Chapple does a very good sales pitch on you: Oh yeah it’ll be absolutely fine come down and take a few of the boys and girls for a couple of sessions. And next thing, you know, I’m Youth Secretary, You do get dragged in [laughs].

But if you don’t have volunteers then you don’t have a football club so for me it really is a case of you get out what you put into it. There are coaches that go to training, like go to a match day and that’s it, they can switch off. But for me, I think it’s more to it than that, I think. The more you put in the more you definitely get out of it. Obviously, when you get signed up at Under 7s you think, I should be fine. It’s just a few hours-a-week type of thing. And it does slowly build up and build up and build up. And yeah, before you know it, it’s yeah, you hooked. It is good!

Moley: What’s the most rewarding thing about being involved?

Ben Churchill: I would say it’s the boy’s and the girl’s development and watching and watching them grow. I was watching the Under 7s after our game on Saturday and they just look so small and so innocent. It’s just lovely to see them loving their football, but as you go through the years, you can just see them growing into young adults basically. This is going to sound really cheesy, but almost what you don’t realise is how much how important football is to the children and to adults. You can be quite a big part of their life going through if you think about it. We train in the summer twice a week and have a game on Saturday. So that’s three times a week you see these kids from Under 7s through to Under 18s and that’s quite a lot. I’d like to think I’m helping mould some of these young people into young adults. I think that’s probably the biggest reward, to know that we’ve gone from Under 7s where they can barely kick a ball to now, we’ll talk about formations and patterns of play and all that type of thing. Being a part of that in the kid’s life is big for me.

Moley: When are you most satisfied during a football week?

Binfield first team lead out by Liam Gavin.

Ben Churchill: I think our match day. I just love it. I manage it a lot better now than I used to. I never used to sleep on a Friday night because I’d get myself worked up about anything. I’d think ‘it’s under sevens, underage football, why am I not sleeping?

It is crazy but it’s just because you care. When we had the bad weather, recently, December and January not having that football release for maybe – we didn’t have a game for around eight weeks, it’s just a killer – I was doing housework, was just trying to keep myself busy, just to sort of pass the time, but I think with the match day morning and the preparation you go through and just to get the boys ready, to get yourself ready, to have that competitiveness, I think for me it is addictive.

Moley: Last one, why should people get involved in their local football club?

Ben Churchill: For me, as I said, I started off at Soccer School and was just running around after a few kids kicking the ball about. But now you get out what you put into it and for me, I keep on going about it, it’s that sense of community. If you don’t have volunteers, there’s no football club and I’ve met some really, really good friends and friends that’ll be with me for life now because of local football.

I think if you want to be a coach that coaches once a week and has a game day on a Saturday and that’s it, then that’s fine. But the sense of satisfaction you get from seeing the boys and girls develop into young adults the sense of community, it’s almost like you have your family, you have your friends and you have your football club.

It’s hard to explain but I’ll be down at the club tonight watching the first team. We’ve got the Guernsey game and I’ll help out in the boardroom, you’re making teas and coffees and you just get to meet lots of different people, lots of different characters from different backgrounds,

It’s great. I think it’s great and it’s we’re very lucky. There are teams we are we going to and you’re playing around, Saturday mornings in the middle of a park, having to mine sweep for dog poo on the pitch and all that type of stuff.

At Binfield, we’ve got a great facility. We’ve got some great people and we do to take it for granted but we are also desperate for volunteers at all levels to help out with things like the tournament and help out on match days. Even just things like a bit of litter picking or a bit of maintenance. When everyone chips in, what’s the saying? ‘Many hands made light work’. I think that’s the thing. We could always do with more volunteers. There are always jobs for people to do but you come away with a bit of satisfaction knowing that you’ve helped out and put a little bit back into the community.