Following on from yesterday’s post from Chris Grant, one of the founders of the FRE Flyers, I caught up with Jo Melchior to find out more about her and her role with the FRE Flyers.
“I think back to the 6th of August 2012 and smile to myself, as that was the first day I took up the role of Club Development Manager for the FRE Flyers. I have never really been sure of that title, as someone who isn’t impressed with the name on the badge, but rather is a woman whose opinion is formed through the actions of an individual,” Jo explains.
It’s hard to define a single role for Jo, as she seems to be there for everything, from organising pitches, kit and satellite clubs to social media, crisis management and morale. She commands respect without demand and provides the support the club needs.
“I suppose my remit is to ensure the smooth running of the project, the provision of training, the management of relationships and partnerships, day to day logistics and inevitably the pursuit of funding.
I come from a background in Sport, first as a competitor and subsequently as a teacher / coach / team manager. I have managed large leisure facilities in challenging environments and spent time working in the legal system specialising in child protection. I suppose some of this has prepared me for my most privileged role yet, that of ‘Mama Jo’ to the FRE Flyers a name bestowed on me by the kids themselves.
This entails, providing support of every kind imaginable, sourcing opportunities for training & qualifications, routes to employment, all the regular stuff, but mostly a listening ear, an honest opinion, hopefully some sound advice and sometimes a shoulder to cry on.”
And that support is not just exclusive to the Flyers themselves, many a time has Jo extended that support. A lynch pin in the network of coaches, a link between the realms. So why does she continue to do her role?
“Its 4 years on and I am still here, yes its part time in respect of employment, which works for me and the finances of the project, but it’s a full time commitment that I am happy to make, because the personal pride and satisfaction from being around the kids, the coaches and the supporters is immense. I never tire of telling people about what I do for a living and without exception people always react in the same way “wow, that sounds like an amazing job” ….and it is.
Young people often get a ‘bad press’ and sometimes that is the reality of the tiny minority that deserve it. However FRE Flyers has shown me that when given focus and purpose and most of all consistency, even those who might have been at risk of making bad choices in life, make a string of good choices. Our young people have become healthier, happier, smarter, more ambitious and determined and in short are a credit to themselves and their families.”
What’s so good about working with the FRE Flyers?
“I am lucky to work alongside a terrific team of coaches who all bring a unique flavour to training. They have embraced my philosophy of “challenging, challenging kids”. We expect the core values of FRIENDSHIP, RESPECT & EXCELLENCE to underpin everything we do and have taken what was essentially a ‘vision’ based on Olympic values and created a healthy, vibrant and safe place for those who choose to come along on the journey.”
What should people know about the FRE Flyers? Why does this group continue?
“We have inevitably lost some along the journey, life and family issues have got in the way, education and work have taken a priority over sport (not the worst thing to happen) and a few have fallen out of love with FRE Flyers, but that’s teenagers for you. The one thing that always remains is that the door never closes, the ‘family ties’ created by the young people may stretch but NEVER break. Once a FRE Flyer, ALWAYS a FRE Flyer.”
Tomorrow we shall be speaking to a couple of the FRE Flyers themselves, so they can tell you why they love hockey and what the FRE Flyers means to them.
For more information about the FRE Flyers: