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‘Callum Parrish saves the day at AFC Telford’

Sue Williamson, Chief Executive SSAT, writes…Sue Williamson

This is the headline from the Shropshire Star on 14 July. I am always interested to read about the achievements of young people and was particularly interested in this piece as Callum is my grandson. Callum is a dedicated supporter of AFC Telford – he attends all their matches home and away. He works as a volunteer for the club – this includes clearing the pitch of snow, fundraising, and interviewing opposition players and managers.

On Saturday, AFC Telford were playing championship team Blackburn Rovers, in a friendly match. One of the assistant referees collapsed through dehydration, and Callum’s offer to run the line was accepted by the referee. To quote Callum: ‘It was nervewracking at first; I was shaking and the Blackburn fans were shouting at me, but we had a bit of banter and that gave me a bit of confidence.’ After the match the Blackburn manager, Gary Bowyer, congratulated Callum on his performance, as did a few of the players.

Callum is a year 11 student at Madeley Academy in Telford – he loves football and has been encouraged by the PE staff to qualify as a referee and to take coaching qualifications. At SSAT we know that teachers make lives. There are thousands of students like Callum that have had opportunities to shine because of the hard work and dedication of teachers. I think teachers often underestimate the impact that they have on young people’s lives. What might seem like a brief conversation can have a major impact on the thinking and behaviour of a young person. Throughout this academic year, millions of these conversations will have taken place – including some nagging. Many hours of teachers’ time will have been devoted to extra-curricular activities, and on behalf of SSAT, I would like to thank you for all that you do for students.

We know that lurking in the back of your mind are the two results days, and we sincerely hope that all your students do well. I am looking forward to hearing about Callum’s GCSE results – I’m probably more worried than he is! Saturday has given Callum encouragement to try and make refereeing his full-time profession. I know that his teachers will give him all the support he needs. As Mesut Özil tweeted: ‘Don’t ever let somebody tell you, you can’t do something. Believe in your dreams – here, today and all over the world.’ Thank you for helping so many young people’s dreams take shape.

Have a great holiday and we look forward to working with you next term. I hope you will join us to identify how we can bring alive the ambition and dreams of young people at the SSAT National Conference 2014: The Learner, 4-5 December in Manchester. The SSAT members’ early-bird rate is available until 30 September.

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