Back in August, London FA announced our winners for the 2021 Grassroots Football Award winners. We are catching up with all of our winners and hearing more about their stories.
First up, we spoke to the founder of Football United Jonathan who won Grassroots Project of the Year 2021. The project started 8 and a half years ago in order to serve the 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.
How did you feel when you won this award?
We were delighted. Last year was difficult in not being able to see our participants fully however we were delighted to still keep our participants active during lockdown. Our online sessions inspired many children and adults to keep active through physical activity and reading throughout the lockdown months.
What are you excited for in the 2021-2022 season?
Very excited to be opening more sites in Enfield and Barking where we can provide more free football sessions. We are also very excited to have expanded our competitive football model: with 7 teams entered into leagues this year including an adults team.
What are the biggest challenges that you will face within the 2021-2022 season?
We are hoping Covid does not impact on participation numbers however we have all become a lot more capable of managing situations.
What is your biggest motivation for your role within grassroots football?
My greatest motivation is to be able to offer communities free football without the concerns of financial deprivation. My own career in football was hindered as a child due to the financial constraints my family had so my motivation is to ensure this isn’t a barrier to anyone. The opportunity to progress and play competitive football for our members encourages to support players who play at a higher level.