Head of Community Development - Dan Blakemore
Chairman Lee Bridgeman's appointment of Dan Blakemore as the club's first ever Head of Community Development last week signalled the beginning of his plans to move the club forward both on and off the field.
Before joining the Wellmen Dan held a similar position with a semi-professional Ice Hockey team, Cardiff Fire, as well as working in football media covering Cardiff City games for GTFM and a host of European leagues for various media outlets.
We took some time to catch up with the 33-year-old about his plans for the job and to find out why he thought Taffs Well was the right fit for him.
"I spoke to Bridgey at length about his plans for the club after he became Chairman and I really shared his vision and could see endless potential for the club moving forward which really excited me," Dan said as we spoke on Wednesday afternoon.
"I had a hugely positive response with my community development plan within the Ice Hockey arena, but I could see a much wider scope for it to be even more successful at Taffs Well. The most important people to any club are its fans and community and I think we really need to make sure we're engaging with them as much as we can."
"The club's Academy is producing an a seemingly endless supply of talent and with Samo (Craig Sampson) as first team manager I can see the club making huge strides over the next few years, so it's a perfect time for us to start building long lasting relationships with the local and wider community."
The current Covid pandemic has caused problems for all club's when it comes to engaging with their fans, who have been kept away from games for over 12 months, and Dan believes that although it will delay some of his plans, he can still hit the ground running.
"There are a few projects that we are ready to get up and running almost immediately, but they are dependent on fans being allowed back into the ground," he added.
"We really want to build relationships with local junior sports clubs and schools, with the aim to host a local team at every home game. I read a quote a few days ago that sighted the rise of expensive subscription TV channels as the reason young people don't follow football as much these days and we really want to show local kids that there is an alternative available in a family club that's on their doorstep. We really want this to be a place where they can feel at home and be a major part in our future."
"However, Covid putting a hold on these projects doesn't mean there aren't things I can do in the meantime. I'm currently focusing time on getting out into the local business community and building relationships with everyone within the club, as well as getting the ground work in on some longer-term projects."
"I've spent a lot of time getting to know Nick (Haincock, Academy Manager) and understanding the work that goes into running the Academy, because I firmly believe that Nick and all of his coaching staff will play a huge part in our future plans."
With the Academy going from strength-to-strength Dan believes that bringing them closer to the first team is essential and can see a bright future for the club with plenty of Academy products graduating to the first team.
"My son was lucky enough to be scouted by the Academy before I joined the club, so I've had the opportunity to observe it from the outside and I can't speak highly enough of all the coaching staff involved. The standard that they have achieved really is second to none and I think when I spoke to Nick last, he has 13 players, from a variety of age groups, who are out on trial with pro clubs. Which really is a testament to the work the Academy are doing."
"I know myself, Bridgey, Samo and Nick are all on the same page and believe that having a strong Academy that produces players that can make the jump to the first team is essential to a successful club. I think we would all love nothing more than to be sat in the stands watching a Taffs Well team competing at the top of Welsh football in a decade's time with four or five Academy products in the starting line-up."
"To make that a reality we need bring the Academy closer to the first team by having the younger players in as mascots and watching first team games, just generally feeling like a huge part of the family. I know Samo is committed to watching the older age groups to ensure that those boys are in and around his squad when they're ready rather than them leaving as well and I truly believe it's going to make us a force to be reckoned with for years to come."
Dan can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org