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Eleven Portraits of Football in Sheffield

Douglas: Hillsborough Pumas, U11 coach and club secretary. He’s at the heart of this club, and the club is at the heart of the community. We arrive early and he’s already at work. The cones and tapes are being set up and he’s looking at his clipboard in preparation for the pre-match drills.

Douglas is in high demand, but we manage to grab ten minutes to chat outside the clubroom. It’s clear that the Pumas are more than a football team. It’s a focal point for families and offers an outlet for their kids. “For today’s ‘Xbox’ generation, the club gives the lads a chance to get active”, he tells us.

Douglas works in printing and marketing and during a period when he was in between jobs he developed a more professional image for the club through branding and social media, and helped the Pumas to the highest level of FA accreditation. Doug’s devotion saw him recognised at the last club gala when he won the “unsung hero” award.

He spends around 15 hours a week on the Pumas, up to 30 in busy times: phoning opponents; emailing parents; doing maps for away matches; planning training; and at the start of the season making sure the club’s 250 players are registered. He has the coaching badges, but he jokes that what he really needs is “a qualification in tying shoe laces!” Coaching is hard work but he tells us it’s worth it. “A couple of seasons ago we had a player who had struggled a bit but gradually improved, and when he finally got his first goal he was completely made up. That season we won the cup, but I got more satisfaction from that lad’s goal.”

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