At the end of July, we were delighted to award the inaugural Terry Buckland Award to Sian Bah for her outstanding engagement with the Behind Every Kick Programme over the past three seasons.
The Terry Buckland award was created in Terry's memory by his family following Terry's death in November 2019. At the award ceremony, Terry's wife Sue explained how Terry embodied Behind Every Kick's passion for sport and advocacy for young people.
"As a young boy, Terry took a football with him everywhere. If his mum sent him to the shops, he'd always dribble his ball there and back. As a teenager, he lived near Kings Cross. There was a big Bengali community there. Terry could see they were excluded from playing football by some local clubs. He had a part-time job washing dishes in Leicester Square and saved some of his wages to pay for a pitch for those boys to play on."
At that time, Terry had aspirations to make a career in football. He had been on QPR's books but eventually signed for Wimbledon while studying for his A Levels. As Sue explains, fate was to deal Terry a cruel hand. "It was during pre-season training that one of the coaches noticed Terry was struggling. His lung capacity was severely reduced. They sent him for tests, and it turned out to be cancer. He had a tumour attached to his spine."
Having undergone radio and chemotherapy, Terry could not resume professional football. He instead set himself a new target, becoming the first in his family to go to university. Terry completed a degree in property management. From there, Terry began building what became a highly successful property surveyance business. But football remained his passion. As well as qualifying as a coach, Terry turned out for amateur club Polytechnic FC establishing himself as a fixture in their midfield for many years. Terry's commitment to football was legendary. In the second half of a match against West Wickham, Terry started to experience chest pains. Knowing that his team had no subs to call upon, he refused to come off the pitch. Following the final whistle, a trip to the hospital revealed Terry had suffered a heart attack during the game, requiring him to undergo a double bypass operation. Understandably Sue can't remember the result of the match!
Unperturbed, Terry resumed playing and coaching football. But it was off the pitch that he made his most enduring impact on the game. Terry lobbied the FA to gain greater access for girls to grassroots football. He helped found the thriving West London Veterans League to ensure older players could continue to enjoy competitive matches. He campaigned for amateur sporting clubs to receive charitable status. And persuaded the Bank of England to open its sports facilities at Roehampton to local children. Outside of football, Terry created a prize offering free studio space to third-year students at Wimbledon College of Art. As a governor at East Sheen Primary School, he oversaw fundraising for a new £100,000 kitchen that allowed the school to provide healthy meals to pupils made from fresh ingredients.
As Terry's health deteriorated in his later years, he transitioned from centre-midfield to goalkeeper before finally hanging up his boots, only to volunteer as a linesman. As Sue recalls, his love of football never diminished, "He'd take the dog for a walk and be gone for hours if he came across a park match being played."
Speaking about the Terry Buckland award, Behind Every Kick's Executive Director, Debra Fox, said: "We are incredibly grateful to the Buckland family for their support. Having learned about Terry's remarkable life, it's clear levelling the playing field for young people was something he was hugely passionate about. It's fantastic that this award allows us to celebrate Terry's life while recognising one of our brilliant young people in Sian."
You can read why Sian is such a worthy winner of the Terry Buckland Award in our interview with her here: https://www.behindeverykick.org/newsroom/america-calling