Lincolnshire FA Chair Jonathan Van-Tam

Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, known for his role in the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has taken quite the career change.

The former deputy chief medical officer is closing in on a year as chair of the Lincolnshire FA.

Speaking to The Linc, he said: “I’ve never been involved professionally in football before, either in the playing side of the managerial side. But, I have been a passionate football fan since the age of about seven, particular in terms of Boston United and my love of football in Lincolnshire.”

Van-Tam, who is often referred to by his initials, JVT, is a self-proclaimed diehard Pilgrims fan, having supported the club since his childhood.

He said: “I used football analogies all the way through the pandemic to try and explain to people in language that I hope they really understand about where we were, and try and liken it to various stages of a game – sometimes a very tense game, where things can still go wrong until the final whistle.”

The 60-year-old once wore a tie of his boyhood club Boston United for a Downing Street press conference during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lincolnshire FA Chair Jonathan Van-Tam
Jonathan Van-Tam joined the Lincolnshire FA almost a year ago. Credit: Ed Mayes Photography

What is his role at Lincolnshire FA?

Van-Tam explained his position as Lincolnshire FA chair: “I’m basically chair of the board, and the board’s job is to have oversight over what Lincolnshire FA does. I suppose in my particular role as the chair, one of the things I want to do, is first of all support our chief executive.”

Van-Tam said he aims to ensure grassroots football in the county is well-governed, led with integrity and is in step with what is expected of a modern organisation.

He took the position in the summer of 2023, having spent close to four decades working in medicine and public health.

“I’ve obviously been involved at a very senior level in government, and I have learnt a lot of things along the way in my career about how to lead and how to manage effectively,” he added.

How did it all come about?

“When I stepped away from government and had a bit more free time, I started think a little bit more about a less than full-time work. I thought what can I do usefully with my time, I want to give something back to the local community. And, then I was tipped off that the chair of Lincs FA was up for grabs, and I thought that it combined something that I think I’m effective at in terms of leaderships, with something that I really, really love,” he said.

Boston United
Van-Tam is a boyhood Boston United fan. Credit: Jamie Johnson

Van-Tam beliefs that the golden ticket in life is finding something that marries a passion, in his case football, with a skill, like leadership. In that respect, his role at Lincolnshire FA is the perfect mix.

It was never the plan for the man who appeared on our TV screens on a daily basis during the dark days of the pandemic to switch government for grassroots football.

He said: “I wouldn’t say it was a career plan… but my career has never been planned out. Opportunities come along and you’ve just got to look at them, and kind of think if you are a bit of a fatalist like I am, that they come along for a reason, and they are yours to take, or not to take.”

Van-Tam has set the main aims of his post as tackling abuse at the grassroots level and helping increase inclusion and diversity in Lincolnshire football.

Feature Image Credit: Ed Mayes Photography/Lincolnshire FA

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