For Sue Henson-Green, the FA Women’s and Girls Football Awards of 2019 will remain one of her proudest days.
After over three decades of refereeing, volunteering and support of the women’s game in Gloucestershire across a number of roles, she was secretly nominated for the ‘Unsung Hero’ award by a group of people she’d worked with over the years.
And Sue, who began refereeing back in the 1991-92 season before helping to set up the first girls’ league in Gloucestershire seven years later, admits she was stunned to hear her name read out as the winner at the ceremony at St. George’s Park last May.
“I didn’t know anything about it until the actual night,” recalled Sue, who’s now urging people to make their own nominations for this year’s awards.
“Everyone colluded on it, people in the office and the secretary of our women’s league knew all about it, even a lady I worked with years ago knew about it!
“When I got the invite through, I wondered why, but our girls’ and women’s football development officer Lex said it was normal and we should go, so it stemmed from there and off we went.
“My reaction when they read my name out, I couldn’t believe it. I can’t put into words how much that award meant to me. It’s such a lovely award and I was so honoured and very humbled to get that.
“After getting it, one of the young ladies at the event came up to me and said that I’ve inspired her to keep going and that, to me, was brilliant.
“If that’s one more person to keep going in women’s football then it feels like I’ve done something.”
Nominations are now open for 2020, with four categories now open for YOUR suggestions, and with the winners presented at the Women’s FA Cup Final on 9 May 2020 at Wembley Stadium.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is open to players, coaches, administrators, volunteers and anyone involved in the sport who has made a sizeable contribution to women’s football over a long period of time. Nominees considered will have demonstrated approximately 20 years of service or more to the game.NOMINATE HERE
The Unsung Hero Award is open to anyone involved in the sport who has made a recognisable contribution to women’s football during 2019. The nominee does not necessarily need to demonstrate lengthy service to the game but should be able to demonstrate significant impact and contribution to the game within their community or further afield. This can be in an on pitch or off pitch role and provides recognition for someone who goes above and beyond what is expected.NOMINATE HERE
The Best Community Football Development Initiative Award will represent the values of our strategy for women's and girls' football. The award celebrates initiatives that encourage girls to believe that football is a sport for them as well as recognise the success of grassroots football development programmes that have inspired women and girls to play.NOMINATE HERE
The Education Establishment Award looks to recognise an institution that demonstrates that they have provided girls and or young women to either learn through football, participate in football, compete and or lead in football. You can find further information on the criteria for this award here.NOMINATE HERE
The nomination window closes at midday on Thursday 19 March and all nominations will be pre-assessed by a team of women’s football experts before a shortlist will go forward to a judging panel.
Meanwhile, Sue revealed that her award still takes pride of place at her home in Bristol as a constant reminder of how she’s helped shape the development of the women’s and girls’ game in her region.
“The award is sat in my lounge and I’ve told my two boys that they can’t even think about getting rid of that when I’m gone!” she laughed.
“I’ve got other stuff in the loft, cups and medals from refereeing which they can do what they like with, but not that award – they need to keep it.
“Looking back now, it’s so rewarding and I’m lucky because I’ve worked with some wonderful people over the years and it’s their award as well.
“You can’t do it on your own, you’ve got to have people you can talk to and help you move things forward and I’ve been very, very lucky.”