Published: 06:00, 10 September 2020
Long-standing Hoops’ supporter Natalie Benville has become the first-ever female chair of Deal Town Football Club.
Benville, whose partner Rob Marriott is the club’s vice-chairman, has taken over from Dave Chmura who has stepped down in order to concentrate on his other role as ground development manager.
The 35-year-old has been attending matches at the Charles Ground ever since she was a little girl and remembers watching her uncle, Roy Barlow, play for the Hoops in the 1980s. She has been on the board for the past six years and, after taking a maternity break to have her daughter Maisie, returned as marketing director.
As the club approaches its centenary year in 2021, she said: “I am thrilled to be part of the next legacy of Deal Town FC and to be the club’s first female chair is a real honour.
“For non-league clubs such as ours COVID-19 has been a challenging time and meant that we have had to sit down and have an honest and frank discussion about where the club is going. After three-and-a-half years as chairman Dave (Chmura) said he wanted to concentrate his efforts on developing the ground and so he will continue his fantastic work of making the Charles Ground one of the best in the league.
“COVID-19 has meant that our regular board meetings have switched to Zoom calls while the players’ pre-season training sessions had to take place in groups of five. We’ve also had to bring in new measures at the ground such as having one-way systems in place, hand sanitizers installed at every touch point and restrictions in changing room capacity.
“The pandemic has meant a challenging time for all non-league clubs, but the board that we have in place has lots of strong characters and skills and our focus now is on the football and ensuring that we give the management team and players the support they need to take Deal Town forward.
“But being part of the wider community in Deal is also key for and we can’t wait to start welcoming back to the Charles Ground all the various groups who use our facilities.”