Nathan French has been hailed as a shining example of what can be achieved while working at a county Football Association.
The 30-year-old, who joined Suffolk FA just over five years ago, is leaving to take up the national post of Respect Project Officer at The FA.
During his time at Suffolk FA, which he joined as a football development officer in November 2011, French has implemented a strategic investment programme, which has seen over £3 million invested into football facilities within the county.
Key projects have included Felixstowe & Walton United’s new clubhouse, Haverhill Community Sports Association 3G FTP and the Ipswich Borough Council/Ransomes FC clubhouse, as well as a number of small capital projects across Suffolk.
He has developed the annual Suffolk FA showcase event – The KBB Grassroots festival, which provides around 1,500 players from U7s-U16s the chance to play in an end-of-season festival run by Suffolk FA & The KBB Centre (Ipswich).
Also among his achievements are creating and implementing a new four-year strategy (2015-2019) for marketing and communication (which included a rebranding exercise) and football development (projects including the Silent Weekend, 4v4 festival with Ipswich Town FC and the Grassroots pitch improvement programme).
He was also the founder and chairman of the WAYS Youth League in Bury St Edmunds. The Youth League, run by Suffolk FA, has grown in four years from six teams to 66 teams and has been nationally recognised after successfully piloting some innovative development rules.
Suffolk FA chief executive, Laura Smith, said: “Nathan is a shining example of what can be achieved while working at a county FA.
“He has stepped up to the plate and taken the opportunities which have come his way with both hands, developing football in the county while simultaneously growing as an individual.
“While he will be greatly missed by his colleagues and the grassroots football community in the county, we are delighted that he has been appointed to such an important role and wish him every success in the future.”
Suffolk FA chairman, Phil Lawler, added his best wishes, saying: “I am very sorry to hear that Nathan is leaving Suffolk FA. It has been a pleasure and privilege to work closely with Nathan during his time as football development manager.
“I am personally very pleased for Nathan and his family that he has been appointed to a national post within The FA and very proud that a former member of our county team now holds a national post within The FA.
“We all wish Nathan well on this next step in his career and look forward to working with him in the future.”
French’s new role will involve overseeing the national FA Respect Programme, which was launched in the 2008/09 season.
The role will focus on working across all levels of football from the grassroots up to the Premier league, looking at how the Respect Programme can be developed.
The FA, whose vision is to ‘Unite The Game, Inspire The Nation’ are looking to embed the programme across the organisation.
The role will focus on some elements of the programme that are still in place, as well as creating new marketing campaigns and programmes which make a positive impact on football and the environment in which it is played across England.
French, who will leave Suffolk FA next month, said: “There are so many fantastic people involved in Suffolk football and I have been fortunate enough to work with so many of them and build some real friendships along the way.
“I am really excited by the new opportunity that I have with The FA. Most people involved in football are aware of the Respect Programme and I feel I have got a great opportunity to develop this across all levels of football.”