Winners of our Women's and Girls' Participation Awards surprised by Lionesses' calls

Thursday 06 Aug 2020
A girls' tournament organised by the Bristol Rovers Community Trust

Our Women’s and Girls’ Football Participation Award winners were surprised with video calls from current and former England players Toni Duggan, Fran Kirby, Demi Stokes and Kelly Smith MBE. 

The FA Women’s and Girls’ Football Participation Awards recognise the achievements of clubs, players, staff and the important work by volunteers at the grassroots level of the game. Two winners were selected for each category.

And the winners from each award received surprise video calls from the famous faces to let them know the news and to thank them for their hard work and dedication in growing women’s and girls’ football participation.

The winners of the awards were:-

• The Best Community Football Development Initiative Award

AFC Unity - Based in Sheffield, AFC United created its ‘Solidarity Soccer’ scheme which over the past 12 months has engaged 41 women aged between 16 and 58 and welcomes women of any experience and ability to play the game they love.

Bristol Rovers Community Trust – Over the past few years, the Trust has established a clear pathway for women and girls to play football, creating their ‘Gas Girls’ project which now has 420 participants aged between five and 45.

Representatives of both clubs were surprised with a video call from England forward Fran Kirby.

• The Education Sector Award

Tyne Met College: The college created a pan disability football team with a key focus to ensure there was a strong female representation. In addition, Tyne Met College work with local Primary Schools to offer free taster football sessions and have also engaged 93 females in recreational football.

York House School: Offering dedicated curriculum time to football for girls from reception to year eight, York House School also hosts an annual girls football festival, driving participation from an early age.

England defender Demi Stokes surprised both unsuspecting winners.

• The Unsung Hero Award

Gerry Ward: A volunteer at Gedling Southbank FC and key worker on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gerry led the club and its 34 teams return to football. Gerry also arranges fixtures for the Notts Girls and Ladies League ensuring 2000 players can play football each week, he coaches the club’s U18s and is the referee and the secretary of the Referee's Association.

Tina Hamilton: Formby Community FC was established by Tina Hamilton a year ago and in 12 months has grown to 28 teams for beginners through to experienced players, including 14 girls’ teams and three women’s teams. The club currently has over 200 female playing members aged from three years old to over 70.

Both Gerry and Tina were surprised with a video call from England forward Toni Duggan.

• The Lifetime Achievement Award

Mike Edge: Mike has had a significant impact on the women’s and girls’ game over the past 20 years with a notable achievement setting up the East Riding County Women’s League in 2003. He immediately took on the role as Secretary, which is a position he still holds to this day as a volunteer.

Val Hoyle: Val is in her 50th year at Rotherham United Women’s Football Club (formerly Kilnhurst Ladies) and founded the club in 1969 aged 11, where she played for 30 years. Since then she has taken on the roles of coach and manager.

Former England player Kelly Smith MBE surprised Mike and Val, who have 70 years experience between them in growing the women’s game.

Sue Hough MBE, FA Board and Chair of FA Women's Football Board, said: “The last few months have been very difficult for those involved in grassroots football, so I’m delighted we can take a moment to recognise and reward those who dedicate their time and effort to drive the women’s and girls’ game forward.

"On behalf of everyone at the FA, I’d like to say a huge thank you to all those involved. Without the hard work of these hugely inspirational volunteers, coaches, facilitators and teachers, the women’s and girls’ game would not be where it is today.”

To view the video calls and hear more on each of the eight winners’ story, click here.

Those above the age of 14 looking to take a more active role and volunteer in their local club can become an FA Playmaker, supported by BT

Across the five modules, the free online course will provide users with knowledge and skills to make a positive difference at their local club, team or initiative.

By FA Staff