We were delighted to receive over 300 nominations across the 10 categories, which was the highest number of nominations for a County FA and a new record for the awards. Not only the quantity of nominations increased but also the quality, meaning our judging panel had a very difficult task of picking our winners.
The award categories were:
• The Spirit of Grassroots Football Award
• Grassroots Match Official of the Year
• Grassroots Coach of the Year (Adult Teams)
• Grassroots Coach of the Year (Youth Teams)
• Grassroots Project of the Year
• Grounds Team of the Year
• Grassroots Team of the Year
• Rising Star of the Year
• Grassroots Volunteer of the Year
• Grassroots Club of the Year
Everyone nominated for these categories are grassroots heroes to us and where deservedly nominated for these awards, but there could only be one winner.
Your Grassroots Football Award Winners for 2021 are as follows:
The Spirit of Grassroots Football – Jermaine Wright, otherwise known as Mr Hackney Marshes, worked for the Hackney & Leyton League as referee and fixtures secretary. Jermaine was also a London FA Council Member and a Level 7 referee. Jermaine was an NHS frontline worker and sadly lost his life to COVID in April 2020. He is remembered as a driving force for football in North East London and his legacy continues.
Grassroots Match Official of the Year – Christopher Murray is a Level 5 referee for the Southern Sunday league. Christopher also supports the league’s PR and Marketing, creating a number of incentives for the league to increase engagement through social media and supporting interaction with players, coaches, volunteers, match officials and stakeholders.
Grassroots Coach of the Year (Adult Teams) – Mary Phillips has been volunteering with Peckham Town FC since 2000, supporting the setup of the clubs’ youth teams. She has been integral to the growth of youth football, running inter-estate football leagues around Peckham which delivered free football to children living on the estates. She now manages the men’s 1st team and U18 boys, leading the men’s side to their first senior trophy in 2019. Mary was also the first black woman to captain England, winning 65 caps and lifted a European title with Arsenal.
Grassroots Coach of the Year (Youth Teams) – Lloyd Collingwoode-Williams looks at the holistic nature of coaching. For him, it goes beyond teaching young players football or developing technical skills, it is about developing them as a whole. His coaching looks at developing players confidence, the way they perceive themselves and their aspirations both on and off the pitch. Llyod’s players are not just part of a team but part of the ‘Residents’ family and his coaching give opportunity for growth for young people from challenging backgrounds.
Grassroots Project of the Year – Football Unites serve to diverse community, providing football to all ages and abilities. During the lockdowns, their coaches engaged with 165 online sessions, 8 hours of online sport each week, 14 employment related zoom sessions for under 16’s and 13 reading sessions run by volunteers. Once lockdown lifted, their volunteer coaches resumed football and drove to support mental health and fitness within the community. Their community projects are diverse multi-generational community focused and serve to use football for social cohesion.
Grounds Team of the Year Award – Petts Wood FC have for year put youth football first, making sure the grounds are prepared for the unpredictable English weather. All teams training is scheduled at schools, so pitches are playable on weekends. The team go above and beyond to make sure their facilities mean everyone in their community can play football, creating a friendly and welcoming environment for all.
Grassroots League of the Year – Hackney Marshes Saturday Youth Football League has grown exponentially over the past six years. In partnership with Hackney Council and their Football Development Officer, they have enabled development opportunities through contemporary facilities, chances for FA clubs to gain FA qualification, engage in CPD events and the professional game.
Rising Star of the Year – Oliver Forde had his coaching placement in America cut short due to COVID-19. On his return, he immediately took up volunteering for Foots Cray Lions JFC becoming the head of coaching. He worked on multiple session plans for coaching to in-cooperate COVID specification, supporting coaches from under 8s to adults. This was all achieved while refereeing on Sundays and completing his university degree. Oliver's involvement allowed the club to return to football during the different stages of lock down and gave their young players the opportunity to play in a safe and fun environment.
Grassroots Volunteer of the Year – Graham Rodber is secretary and chairman of the Southern Sunday league. He has expanded the league to 10 divisions, with 100 % coverage of referees, introduced a league app and helped the league achieve FA Charter Standard. The hours of unpaid work for this league has not gone unnoticed and the expansion of the league is evidence of this, supporting SSFL to come on leaps and bounds.
Grassroots Club of the Year – AFC Leyton are passionate about girls’ football. During COVID, the club made sure that protocol and pathways are in place (Safeguarding and COVID) with communication and engagement kept players engaged during lockdown, including live football debates called ‘Real Talk’. The club has grown so much, and they are very active in growing the club further as membership had grown from 26 in 2017 to 660 as of March 2021. They are recognised as trailblazers for grassroots women and girls’ football and worthy of this title.
Congratulations to all our winners and we will be catching up with them individually soon.