THE LONDON FA HAVE ANNOUNCED THAT LAST WEEK THE SOUTHERN SUNDAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE WERE AWARDED THE FA’S CHARTER STANDARD LEAGUE STATUS, MAKING THEM THE FIRST LONDON FA AFFILIATED ADULT LEAGUE TO ATTAIN THIS ACCREDITATION – AND THEY COULD NOT BE MORE DESERVING.
The league has been facilitating men’s 11-a-side football since 1944 and closed their books this month with a massive 100 teams and 10 divisions on them. The dedicated and experienced committee have no plans to stop there. An ambitious three-year development plan charts continued growth to include the introduction of transition and Vets divisions.
Graham Rodber has served on the Southern Sunday League committee for over a decade, becoming Secretary after two seasons and since his appointment to League Chairman in 2014 has been the driving force behind the significant and progressive changes, which have led the league to where they are today. Graham’s dedication to grassroots football also extends to a 20-year career refereeing grassroots football and a term serving as a London FA council member. All these hats make Graham a passionate and accomplished league Chairman.
In 2018, when the league set their sights on becoming Charter Standard, league committee member and Chair of Wimbledon Town, Dawn Barnett, stepped forward to take on the role of league Charter Standard co-ordinator. Had Dawn known the task that lay before her, I am not sure she would have been so forthcoming but her tireless dedication and genuine passion to raise the bar for her clubs and league is really an inspiration. There is no doubt that, without Dawn taking charge of that role, the accreditation would be in the balance.
The league and London County FA worked in partnership across two seasons to ensure over 60% of the league’s current teams now hold Charter Standard status, with the rest to follow suit in the seasons to come. The league has continually demonstrated a desire to be inclusive and sets a culture which promotes the best of the Respect programmes; Kick It Out and Rainbow Laces, to ensure its member and any potential members know they are welcome and supported. Always raising standards and adopting all technology available for the benefit of its clubs, which has culminated in the league being 100% paperless for 2020/21.
Southern Sunday Football League Chairman Graham Rodber said: “I am thrilled that the SSFL is now an accredited FA Charter Standard League. This achievement reflects the tireless work of our clubs and league officers over the past two seasons. We would not have been able to achieve this brilliant feat without the significant level of engagement and input from Dawn Barnett, our Charter Standard Secretary. To become the first Adult Charter Standard League in London is something I am immensely proud of. This recognition is the icing on the cake following the award of being awarded the London FA Grassroots League of the Year.”
Southern Sunday Football League Charter Standard Secretary Dawn Barnett added: “This is an incredible achievement for the league and comes after many months of hard work and commitment from our member clubs and the County FAs. Dedicated support on the League Committee for this piece of work was key to its success, as the level of engagement with clubs and with our County FAs was paramount to ensuring the co-ordination and completion of every single Charter Standard application. I was most certainly kept on my toes as we kept nearing the required target to become a Charter Standard League, the clubs and divisions kept expanding, but we got there in the end!
“I am really pleased that we can now move on to the strategic work of delivering our innovative and exciting three-year development plan for the SSFL.
Paul Bickerton, CEO of London FA said: “Southern Sunday becoming the first Adult Charter Standard League in London is a major milestone for our sport in the capital and I’d like to extend my congratulations to everyone involved in making this happen. As one of London’s most progressive and modern adult leagues, we look forward to working with Southern Sunday to help them deliver an ambitious three-year development plan; a plan which I am in no doubt will see the league continue to grow and provide a quality footballing experience to its members.”
Nathan Batchelor, National Grassroots Leagues Services Manager, commented: “It is testament to the commitment and progressive attitude of this league and its member clubs that the league is able to attain Charter Standard League status. The league should be applauded for embracing this process and demonstrating that they are constantly striving to improve, for players, coaches, referees and clubs.”
The FA Charter Standard League is an accreditation that sets an operational benchmark for FA sanctioned leagues. This is awarded to leagues which can demonstrate their commitment to provide well organised football in safer, more inclusive environments.