The UEFA Champions League final is always a special occasion in the football calendar and for the third season in succession the build-up to the showpiece match will be made even more memorable when the lifeblood of the game is recognised by UEFA Grassroots Day.
Approved by UEFA's Executive Committee, the event is a celebration of grassroots football across Europe, and, in the week of the most high-profile club fixture of the year, will emphasise UEFA's stance that elite football cannot flourish without healthy grassroots. Therefore one of the day's key objectives will be to transmit the all-important message that football is open to everyone.
Conceived of as an annual undertaking, UEFA Grassroots Day will be multi-faceted, involving all 53 of the European governing body's member national associations. Grassroots work at domestic level is crucial to overall success, and on 16 May, and the weeks before and after that date, each association will get the opportunity to promote its programme with a series of activities.
In May 2010, the inaugural UEFA Grassroots Day proved to be a resounding success with hundreds of thousands of young and old grassroots players taking part in football-themed events organised all over Europe, with fun and fair play a central theme running through each and every one.
As over the past two years, the UEFA Executive Committee will also decide on the winners of the UEFA Grassroots Awards, with gold, silver and bronze prizes for outstanding achievement handed out in three key areas. The best grassroots leader awards will be given to individuals who have excelled in this area and given up their time to help the grassroots game, such as 2011 winner John de Looze from the Netherlands. The prizes for best grassroots project recognise schemes run by an association, region or agency and was won last season by Schleswig-Holstein from Germany, while the best grassroots club awards, of which the gold was given to Hämeenlinnan Jalkapalloseura of Finland last time, complete the honours list. All FAs are asked to nominate worthy candidates, with the winners being decided by UEFA's grassroots panel.
Central to UEFA Grassroots Day will be a number of activities which will be staged in Munich on 16 May as part of a whole week of events that will make up the UEFA Champions Festival, where famous faces will be on hand to act as UEFA grassroots ambassadors. The UEFA Grassroots Day pages on the UEFA Training Ground will keep you informed of all the latest news about the activities planned, both in Munich and all over Europe, so you can join in this celebration of football yourself.
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