Grassroots heroes head to Wembley
Saturday 06 August 2011
It's a special day in the grassroots football calendar at Wembley Stadium on Sunday as eight prestigious awards will be handed out before The FA Community Shield between Manchester City and Manchester United.
The FA and McDonald’s Community Football Awards were created to recognise and reward individuals and clubs across the country who make a difference to grassroots football in their local community – the people who dedicate their time to developing tomorrow’s young talent and help ensure safety and best practice in tens of thousands of clubs up and down the country.
Football legends including Sir Geoff Hurst, Ian Rush and Pat Jennings will be present for the awards that support areas such as coaching, volunteers and The FA's Charter Standard programme.
England World Cup winner Sir Geoff, McDonald’s Director of Football, was also part of the judging panel.
As The FA’s Community Partner and the nation’s biggest supporter of grassroots football, McDonald’s has once again partnered with The FA to promote the Community Awards. Over the last eight years, McDonald’s has helped drive the training and recruitment of over 20,000 community coaches and aims to improve standards at grassroots level to help coaches and clubs play an even greater role in community football.
The eight award categories are:
- Outstanding Contribution to Community Football Award
- Young Volunteer of the Year
- Volunteer of the Year
- Coach of the Year
- FA Charter Standard Development Club
- FA Charter Standard Community Club
- FA Charter Standard Club of the Year
- FA Charter Standard League of the Year
Outstanding Contribution to Community Football Award
Chelmsford based Dawn has been championing women’s and girl’s football in Essex for the last 25 years. Having formed and played for Chelmsford City Ladies & Girls FC, she was also instrumental in helping to create and run both the Essex County Girl’s Football League and the Essex County Women’s Football League.
Sir Geoff Hurst added: “Dawn is a real inspiration to any female, young or old, who wants to play football. The impact she has had on women’s and girl’s football in Essex is remarkable and she has been instrumental in helping to develop professionalism within the game as well as creating more opportunities for girls to enjoy and play football at grassroots level."
Young Volunteer of the Year
Preston-based coach Rabiya already has her Level Two in sports leadership and Level One football coaching award, and has shown her desire to make a difference through her work with young people in care, or those with physical or learning disabilities.
“It is a real honour to be recognised for the work I have done in local communities,” she said. “I hope that this is a springboard for other excluded ethnic minority females to go and achieve and excel in football.”
Volunteer of the Year
This award recognises the important contribution of a man who has been part of the furniture at Stony Stratford Town FC for over 25 years and is rewarded for his tireless work at the Ostler’s Road ground, somewhere that has become his second home.
“I’ve spent many a year down there,” Judd says with a smile. “I was quite chuffed really to receive the award, to say the least. It’s like my extended family down here really, I’m 72 now but the football keeps me young.”
Coach of the Year
Tim Durkin Brown has been named the Coach of the Year 2011. Tim, from Warrington, won the North West regional prize before being put through his paces at a national assessment day in July.
The winners from the eight different regions of England each had to deliver a coaching session with a group of youngsters in front of the judges before the national winner was selected. Read more about Tim here
FA Charter Standard Development Club of the Year
Further north is another club that has excelled in the area of youth development, Nottingham’s Underwood Villa FC. “There were one or two tears when I got the letter through – a lot of hard work has gone into it from a lot of people,” admits vice chairman and junior secretary, Clare Dennis.
“The fact that we’re able to provide an opportunity for so many children is probably our greatest achievement. That sounds corny, but it’s true. We’re giving children the chance to focus on something; we’re a community club and, who knows, some of them might end up playing at Wembley themselves in the years to come.”
The club has forged close links with Nottingham Forest in recent years, with Martin Goodfellow, one of the club’s football development officers, also coaching at the City Ground’s development centre. “We’ve got good links with Forest and have had several children go to train at Forest’s development centres,” says Dennis.
FA Charter Standard Community Club of the Year
WYRLEY JUNIORS FC
The Midlands-based club will operate almost 50 teams over the forthcoming season, an incredible increase on the six teams run by Wyrley just ten years ago. “The numbers have just grown year-on-year,” says club chairman, Keith Hardy.
“The 45 teams are made up of three adult mens’ teams plus a veterans team, a ladies team and eleven girls teams, and then 29 boys teams.” So what’s the key to this incredible increase in participation over the past decade?
"It’s mainly down to having two really strong soccer academies for both the boys and the girls,” explains Hardy. “We’re now the official feeder club to Walsall after they approached us about six years ago. We probably send to them about 20 players each year, about five or six of whom are taken on.”
FA Charter Standard Club of the Year
Banbury United play in the Southern League Premier Division, but the Oxfordshire outfit is about far more than one side – in fact the Puritans currently boast 28 teams. And as the club’s chairman and reserve team manager Paul Jones admits, it’s a labour of love.
“We made a commitment to build a team that would hopefully make a contribution to our local community,” he says. “We’re all volunteer staff, there’s no full-time person working for the club.
“We try to provide a career pathway for any youngster to play for his home town club. In theory it’s possible for a five-year-old, 13 years down the track, to play for the club’s youth team, reserve team and first team.”
Jones believes the key to the club’s success is the army of volunteers that continue to help propel the club forward and onto new heights. “To say we’ve never had stressed out volunteers would probably be an incorrect statement, but this is really a timely boost to morale for everyone involved – it gives a shot in the arm to everyone involved in the football club.”
FA Charter Standard League of the Year
HARROW YOUTH LEAGUE
The Harrow Youth League has been part of chairman Andy Lowe’s life for the best part of 40 years and, amongst many other achievements, has been instrumental in raising the profile of mini soccer in Middlesex through its pioneering Harrow Soccer 7s Combination.
“I think [the award] demonstrates the tremendous work that everybody within the Harrow Youth League does, both at club level and obviously the officers and managers of the league too,” says Lowe. “2012 will be the league’s 70th anniversary. My personal involvement in the league goes back to 1975 – I actually started in the league as a referee before getting more involved in the administration side of things.
“Last season, if you take it in aggregate, we had in excess of excess of 560 teams and just under 9,000 players were registered with us – we are expecting probably in the region of a 10-12% increase this time around. The number of people we’ve been able to provide football for over the years must run into the hundreds of thousands, which makes us very proud.” Read more about Harrow Youth League here