Some of the best achievements in grassroots football have been recognised as the winners of the 2012 UEFA Grassroots Day Awards have been announced, with gold prizes awarded to nominees from Denmark, Finland and Moldova.
Revealed on the third annual UEFA Grassroots Day – when the foundations of the game are celebrated throughout Europe, underlining UEFA's stance that elite football cannot flourish without a healthy grassroots – awards were given for best leader, project and club. Each of the nominees was recommended by the UEFA Grassroots Panel and the UEFA Development and Technical Assistance Committee and ratified by the UEFA Executive Committee.
The best grassroots leader award recognises volunteer coaches and organisers who have made a big impact over a long period of time, showing exceptional commitment to the cause. Benny Hansen from Denmark – who has been involved in the grassroots game since 1956 – was named the gold award winner in this category, ahead of coach and fair play promoter Atle Solheim of Norway and Csilla Ugrai, who is involved in girls football in Hungary.
Key criteria considered for the award of prizes in the best grassroots project category were that the nominations were not part of an association's regular business and that they enhanced player development and numbers, health, society and education. An innovative coach education scheme involving 130 clubs and 2,000 children's coaches, the Fortum Tutor project from Finland won. Scotland's Football Challenge initiative – involving 1,000 trainers and 19,000 children – was given the silver award, while a widespread project for the under-seven age group in the Netherlands, called the Mini-Pupils, was awarded bronze.
The third key area recognised was best grassroots club, with particular consideration going to those with large numbers of players and teams and comprehensive football for all programmes. Highlighting this last point, the gold award was presented to CSCT Buiucani Chisinau from Moldova, a club that has made a big impact on disadvantaged children by offering a safe environment to play football. The silver award was given to Republic of Ireland-based Tramore AFC, the Football Association of Ireland's 2011 club of the year, while bronze went to Dynaz Vishgorod in Ukraine.
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