We sat down with Holly Grimes, who has been appointed Chair of Manchester FA’s Young Leaders Academy, and talked about the role of the YLA, as well as her plans for the group in the coming months.
First of all Holly, congratulations on becoming the Chair of the Manchester FA Young Leaders Academy!Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you’ve come to be the Chair of the YLA?
Thank you! I’m a 22 year-old student, I’m currently completing my Masters in Sport Business, Management and Policy at MMU, I’m a Manchester United fan, and I also play football for Curzon Ashton. In terms of how I’ve come to be Chair, it is a role that has come about quite unexpectedly, but one that I’m really excited about. I did some volunteering during my time at university in Birmingham and really enjoyed it, so when I moved back to Manchester I was on the lookout for some opportunities to continue this.
I came across the YLA on the Manchester FA website and submitted an application straight away as it seemed perfect for the aspects of football I’m interested in, and linked in really well with my studies and future career aspirations.
I joined around Christmas time, and immediately I could really appreciate the tangible impact that the YLA are able to have on youth football in Manchester. When the Chair position came up I decided to apply, had an interview and was delighted to find out I’d been given the role, and I can’t wait to hit the ground running with it!
MFA Young Leaders Academy
How long have you been involved in football, and what’s your first memory of the game?
I’ve played football for as long as I can remember! In terms of volunteering, this was something that I really became involved with during university where I did some coaching, and I have tried to maintain this ever since through becoming involved with the YLA, as growing and developing the game is definitely the area I am most passionate about being involved in.
My first memory of the game would probably be my Dad taking me to Old Trafford to watch Man United, and also being one of the only girls playing with the boys in primary school!
How would you explain the role and importance of the Young Leaders Academy to people who aren’t familiar with it?
In terms of the importance of the Young Leaders Academy, we act as a representative voice for young people in grassroots football, and look to have an impact in the local community by ensuring opportunities for young people to become engaged in football.
We support Manchester FA in their activities and get involved in initiatives and events which support the development of football for a diverse range of young people in Manchester. This is really important as it ensures that the views of young people are heard, and as result that they are able to shape their own footballing experiences. It also provides an opportunity for group members to develop the skills and experience necessary to go on and work in football in the future, which is so important for continuing the fantastic work already done by Manchester FA.
My role in this is to lead meetings, coordinate our activities and act as a spokesperson for the rest of the group to ensure that the voices of young people are heard both within Manchester FA and beyond through our connections within the wider footballing community.
What plans do you have in your position as Chair of the Young Leaders Academy – do you have any particular goals or targets in mind for the YLA?
One thing I’d really like to kick on with is recruiting some new members; we have a fantastic group at the moment but I believe that the more members we have, the more different perspectives and experiences we can pool together to understand the barriers faced by young people to becoming involved in football, and make a real difference to their experiences.
I’d also like us to work more alongside some of the other Our Game in Manchester working groups in order to share ideas and work collaboratively towards our goals of making football as accessible and inclusive as it can be.
On a personal level, I’m really passionate about ensuring opportunities for women and girls and for the LGBTQ+ community to become involved in football, so I would love us to lead or assist on some projects in these areas.
Would you recommend that people get involved in the YLA, and if so, who should be getting involved?
Definitely! It’s a great way to develop yourself, grow your network in football, and play a part in creating opportunities for other young people to become engaged in football!
I’d recommend it to anyone aged 14-24 with an interest in growing the game and making it more inclusive for everyone, and it’s also a great way of gaining skills and experience for those looking to work in football in the future.