2021 Grassroots Football Awards Winners Announced
Today we are proud to announce West Riding’s winners of The FA & McDonald's Grassroots Football Awards 2021.
The FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards are for people who make a positive difference. It’s our way to celebrate the fantastic individuals who put their heart and soul into the grassroots game across West Riding – and say a huge thank you to the incredible volunteers who inspire us all.
This season our grassroots volunteers have adapted to the ever-changing Coronavirus pandemic. They responded quickly to make football happen when they could. And when they couldn’t play they kept players, volunteers and the wider community connected off the pitch.
They demonstrated the true power of football, they stuck together, helped each other across teams, across clubs and showed what the football community could do when faced with uncertainty and an unparalleled situation.
On behalf of everyone at West Riding FA we’d like to say huge congratulations to all of this year’s winners – and a big thank you for all you do for grassroots football in the county.
Grassroots Project of the Year
Winner: Westend Junior Football Club
During Lockdown, 25 young volunteers aged between 8-16 selflessly dedicated their time to support vulnerable families and individuals across Huddersfield who were affected during the Covid-19 pandemic. As ‘Westend Community Champions’ these young people have become the pride of Huddersfield after collecting donations for food banks supporting food poverty, helped vulnerable and elderly people self-isolating, delivered a Covid-19 Christmas Mission, donated clothing for the homeless, provided pamper packages for NHS staff and worked with older generations to support Neonatal Care Units for premature babies.
These actions have raised over £100,000 of aid to assist those most in need. The impact this has had is simply staggering. The young volunteers have delivered over 3,000 food items to local foodbank Jubilee Centre. Over 2,500 clothing donations to Sanctuary Kirklees for homeless, refugees and asylum seekers. Over 1,000 families across 15 school communities supported with Christmas presents delivered. Over 350 footballs with children kits for Christmas. 250 Christmas gifts provided for elderly people. 820 home educational packs for vulnerable children. 120 pamper packs for ICU Nurses. Over 2,000 preemie hates for Neonatal Care Unit.
As we slowly return to normality and reflect on the countless heart-warming, inspirational and heroic stories across the country, these youngsters’ actions will be remembered for many years to come. Their efforts, compassion, care and dedication to help others most in need; during truly unprecedented times in their own young lives, has been truly inspiring and humbling. Inspired by Marcus Rashford, their aim from day one was "kids helping kids".
Grassroots Volunteer of the Year
Winner: Ian Forbes
Ian is the Chairman at Ryburn United FC and he goes above and beyond to ensure that all age groups are catered for week in and week out. He runs the clubhouse through the week and weekends, gives up his spare time to work on ground maintenance and puts in daily activities on his own to ensure that the club have the best possible facilities to use. From a new clubhouse last year, Ian also had a huge part in ensuring that Ryburn United are a real community club.
Since Ian started at the club as a coach, they have seen a huge influx in junior and girls’ teams at Ryburn. The impact that Ian has had on our club is indescribable. There are no words that can describe somebody who goes to the extent that Ian does to ensure everyone’s happy and the club can run at the highest level possible and the club are lucky to have someone like Ian.
Ian stands out to other people because of the efforts he gives in during his own time. He makes sure preparations are in place for every age group, whether it is stocking up the club bar, to cooking for the open age teams and just down to always been a presence at the club for everyone to see.
Grassroots Club of the Year
Winner: Calverley United Junior Football Club
Calverley United Junior Football Club has come together over the difficult last year we’ve all faced and offered everyone involved support, encouragement and hope. They’ve worked hard to become a Community Charter Standard Club, achieved last year, and their acceptance as a new Wildcats Centre, helping further grow local girl’s access to football and fitness. The hard work behind the scenes often goes unnoticed but the Club does so many things, like as developing a Youth Committee to help inform the Club’s DNA, improving the whole experience for everyone involved.
The positive impact in the local community is truly phenomenal. They’ve grown the girls game from 5 girls, on a mixed team 4 years ago, to nearly 100 girls training and playing regularly, and their first ever girls’ team reached the West Riding Cup Final last year. Behind the scenes volunteers have worked really hard to help improve access to better pitches and facilities. During lockdown the club inspired over 180 players and coaches to contribute to the #PassTheBallNotTheVirus challenge, just one example that shows what an impressive, inclusive, and well-loved community club they are.
They’re a small village club which has doubled in size over the last 5 years, even though there are a lot of clubs nearby with huge catchment areas and all without an official clubhouse and limited use of pitches. It’s the volunteers that makes the club stand out, they really do inspire the children from the local community, and further afield, to be the best they can be. They’ve come together to raise money for community, school and sports defibrillators and they’ve worked so hard to ensure that each return to football following lockdown is as safe, and fun, as it possibly can be.
The Spirit of Grassroots Football Award
Winner: Joanne Howard
Joanne has dedicated a huge portion of her life to ensuring Thackley Juniors FC can be the most enjoyable and safest youth football experience in the area. Joanne undertakes a whole range of duties for the club and it's no exaggeration to say the club would grind to a halt without her effort, diligence, skill, love and tenacity. From being Child Welfare Officer, to managing the training rota, the referee rota, the pitch rota, a valued committee member, assistant coach for her son's team, a leading light on autism in football and a level 2 mental health champion, she is pivotal to the club.
The club achieved FA Charter Standard Community Club status and her dedication to this was instrumental. The club were also one of the first junior clubs in the country to become mental health aware and Joanne is a level 2 Mental Health Champion who is vital in the clubs ability to support this. Her son is on the autism spectrum so her knowledge as a mum transfers to the club and ensures we are well equipped to welcome players of all abilities and manage their development effectively.
She makes an unbelievably huge contribution to why the club of over 350 children can operate effectively, efficiently, safely and with an ethos that has the children's enjoyment and development at heart. She lives and breathes Thackley Juniors and she really is an inspiration.
Match Official of the Year
Winner: Mike Stoddart
Mike helps develop referees from all age groups in gaining an understanding of the expectations of the match official and shares his knowledge of the Laws of The Game. He supports referees at all levels with a wealth of experience and a passion to help all officials to be the best they can be in grassroots and above. Mike understands the needs of each individual game to ensure that the fixture is played in the best environment possible so that everyone in grassroots football enjoys the game. He takes on board the comments of everyone with an understanding of the emotions and passion of players, managers, and supporters.
Mike has been a stalwart for West Riding Referees for decades and still displays a huge passion for officiating. His commitment to refereeing continues with him officiating over many different West Riding Leagues and this includes School and Colleges competitions, both male and female.
The way he strives to educate players during and after games has been recognised and this is hugely appreciated. Having achieved the highest levels in officiating, Mike climbed all the way to the Premier League, he represented West Riding with a professionalism that he still shows in his grassroots performances today.
Grassroots Coach of the Year (Youth)
Winner: Luke Cooper
Luke has gone the extra mile in the past year to keep children he coaches at Calverley United engaged in football throughout the pandemic. He’s kept the sessions safe by communicating clear guidance to both players and parents as well as making sessions fun for all who attend who always leave with a smile on their faces.
Whilst indoor football was restricted, he made sure outdoor football sessions were run to benefit players mental and physical health in challenging times. During the tightest restrictions in the first lockdown he also made sure teams were provided training videos to do from home to keep them engaged in football.
Grassroots Coach of the Year (Adult)
Winner: Adel Chermiti
Adel is a brilliant coach who prides himself on making Leeds Hyde Park extremely inclusive and welcoming to all. He makes it a welcoming environment for all players at the club no matter their experience, ability or background and even those kicking a ball for the very first time. The main goal of Adel is that everyone is enjoying themselves whilst progressing at the same time.
Adel has been instrumental in moving towards a safe space for women to access sport and he commits to understanding the players to know how to approach each person with corrections or advice, therefore, instilling a sense of worth in all the players.
Grounds Team of the Year
Winner: Richard Hill
Richard is the Groundsman and Facilities Manager at Brighouse Juniors. He spends 30 to 40 hours every week of his own time preparing and maintaining 5 pitches. He cuts the grass, fertilises, improves the ground quality and drainage, marks out the pitches and co-ordinates the pitch allocation for 34 teams. His hard work is pivotal to the club functioning as well as it does. Without Richard, the club would struggle to operate and he effectively does the work of 3-4 people and saves the club thousands every year.
Richard is a founder member of the club and is in his 32nd year of serving the club. He’s helped build the club up over 3 decades and it now has over 450 children playing football every week. He takes immense pride in providing fantastic quality pitches for our kids to enjoy.
The amount of work Richard does on a daily and weekly basis is outstanding. He goes above and beyond, working throughout the year and in all weathers to provide fantastic pitches. His work rate is unquestionable, he is a true gentleman and the club are lucky to have him.
Grassroots League of the Year
Winner: Garforth Junior Football League
The league members and committee work tirelessly so every club and team can participate in the league. They go more than the extra mile to ensure grassroots football can be played the way it should be and that it is for the kids. They make sure the game is enjoyed by players and the kids thrive due to the positive environment the league provides and encourages.
The league is extremely passionate about grassroots football and make sure everyone is welcome. They do everything in their power to support member clubs and teams, especially in the past year in challenging times.