MEL Stickland leaves Suffolk FA on Friday after five years to join Active Suffolk.
The 30-year-old joined in December 2017, initially combining working as a Football Services Officer and Youth Referee Appointments Officer, before working solely as a Football Services Officer
Mel, who was born and bred in Saxmundham, is joining Active Suffolk as a Project Officer (Community Sport & Physical Activity).
She will be supporting in the planning and delivery of a variety of Active Suffolk Partnerships national and local programmes to enhance the sport and physical activity workforce particularly in Children and Young People.
Mel said of her time at Suffolk FA: “Growing up I always wanted to work in football as it is a sport that has given me so much opportunity and I wanted this to continue into a career and I am lucky that I was able to fulfil this role at Suffolk FA.
“I have really enjoyed working with the football community, particularly the club secretaries! There is some really great work and inspirational people in the football community and I feel appreciative that I have crossed paths with many of those people.
“I want to thank everyone at Suffolk FA who I’ve worked with over the years. I’ve learnt so much from them all, both personally and professionally, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
“I am now really looking forward to joining Active Suffolk and jumping into new challenges and opportunities.”
Suffolk FA Chief Executive Richard Neal said: “Mel has been a shining star in our team since she joined in December 2017.
“When she initially joined, her role was to tackle two difficult areas; youth referee appointments and football services including discipline cases and affiliation/sanctioning.
“Her work on youth referee appointments saw increases in both coverage and average marks, complementing the improvements being made across the department to better support our clubs and match officials by appointing the right referee to the right game.
“At the same time, Mel was bringing her enthusiasm and professionalism to the services side of the team; learning to lead often difficult investigations and deal with cases in a sensitive and empathetic manner.
“Since the pandemic and following some changes to the team, Mel has been full time within the services team where she has further grown her expertise to be a go-to colleague for WGS, Full-Time, and affiliation matters.
“The grassroots football community will miss this when she’s gone.
“But just as importantly, Mel has been a terrific colleague to work with. She cares – deeply – and that’s one of her greatest strengths. “She brings fun to an office, with her HIIT training sessions during lockdown and general jovial demeanour. She brings laughter to an office, making everyone laugh with her regular weather reports and sometimes left-field sparks of inspiration. She brings compassion to an office, ensuring everyone is always ok and looked after.
“Her now former colleagues will miss this greatly when she’s gone.
“But she departs with our most sincere gratitude and best wishes for the next stage in her career, and a promise from me that our Parkrun battles have only just begun.”