Having hung up the boots for the last time at the end of our second season, 2015/16 AFC Unity Solidarity Award winner and 2015/16 AFC Unity Collective Award winner Sarah Richards is now taking on a fresh challenge with the organisation she joined at its early stages.
This past Sunday – to pay homage to the years of dedication to women’s grassroots football she has provided, across Sheffield and South Yorkshire – we held The Sarah Richards Testimonial. As per her wishes, the event raised food donations for our expanded Football for Food project, which were contributed to Sheffield Food Collective and the food banks they work with to alleviate food poverty in the city.
The match featured “Red Stars” past and present, and several special guest players, including the league’s top goalscorer of the season, Natasha Carlton, from Mexborough Athletic, in addition to AFC Unity Chair Olivia Murray, AFC Unity originals Kim Best and Sandy Yere, former AFC Unity sports psychologists Roshini Prince-Navaratnam and Anna Pickering, and ex-Dronfield Town and Manchester City player Simone Jarvis, to name just a few.
In typical end-to-end, high scoring AFC Unity fashion, the side captained by Sarah Richards won 5-4 over Shanie Donohue’s team in a match that featured thrills and spills, offbeat shenanigans, and, quite often, hilarity. And some excellent football. Only one negative was the unfortunate removal from the match of young Emily Salvin, who suffered an almost identical knee dislocation injury to Sarah’s from her first AFC Unity season, recovering to complete the second season and finish her playing days on her own terms.
It was confirmed on the day that the much-needed newly-devised role of AFC Unity’s Director of Football would be adopted by Sarah Richards herself. Utilising her vast experience and networks, as well as her passion for AFC Unity, the position will involve feedback from training sessions, scouting and recruitment, raising the profile of, and funds for, the organisation, and liaising with project partners both in football and in the community.
In footballing tradition, she will also be an excellent link for the Board of Directors and Manager, Jay Baker, who said ‘As a rapidly-expanding and increasingly professional yet alternative football club, the Director of Football role is perfect for AFC Unity, and the right person has come along at the right time to fill such a position!’ Sarah added: ‘My aim as Director of Football is to continue to raise the profile of AFC Unity and develop the existing excellent structure of the club! I’m very excited to get started and I’m proud to be involved and to continue to represent AFC Unity!’