A goalkeeper who defied a broken hand, an innovater in the women’s game and the founders of Fathers Football League were among those at St. George’s Park on Monday to collect their 2017 The FA Mars Just Play Awards.
Since launching in 2011, The FA Mars Just Play programme has established itself as one of the biggest and fastest-growing to encourage adults to get active and play football. This year it celebrated one million attendances at sessions up and down the country and these awards recognise the on-going efforts of players, teams, centres and organisers to drive adult participation in grassroots football.
Kelly Simmons, The FA participation and development director, said: “Football occupies a unique place in England with more than 11 million people regularly participating.
- Legacy Award: Shepway Fathers Football League
- Organiser of the Year: Katy Nunn (Funky Boots)
- Centre of the Year: Abbeymead Rovers
- Player of the Year: Jim Read
“The FA supports an army of 400,000 volunteers who are the lifeblood of grassroots football.
“It is wonderful that through The FA Mars Just Play Awards we have a platform to recognise the achievements of some of the finest examples of those that contribute to the national game.”
Former England defender Graeme Le Saux was on hand to help present the awards, the first of which was given Shepway Fathers Football League who took home the Legacy Award back to Kent.
The Fathers Football League provides a unique playing opportunity to those who had stopped playing due to parenting commitments, fostering greater links between fathers and their children, the schools they attend, and different cultures within the community.
The Organiser of the Year Award was presented to Sheffield’s Katy Nunn who set up Funky Boots – a session that gives women of all ages and abilities a chance to get into football in a fun, non-competitive, and social environment.
Under Nunn’s leadership, the session has blossomed and now attracts women from Brazil, Germany and across England with ages ranging from 18-60.
Gloucestershire’s Abbeymead Rovers won the Centre of the Year Award for creating an open and inclusive session that has created more opportunities for people over 50 years-old in the local area to play football, boosting its numbers from six to 30 in just two years.
Finally, Jim Read was the proud winner of the Player of the Year Award for his unwavering commitment to the Holmes Park Walking Football Just Play session.
Despite suffering a broken hand while playing in goal, Read has never missed a session and his efforts have helped him overcome personal health issues.