Scotland, Germany and Denmark have won gold in the 2014 UEFA Grassroots Day Awards, which honour the best leaders, clubs and projects around Europe for their excellence.
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The 2014 UEFA Grassroots Day Awards have been revealed, with the best leaders, clubs and projects from around Europe recognised for their achievements in the grassroots game. Gold awards go to nominees from Scotland, Germany and Denmark.
UEFA's viewpoint is that elite football cannot flourish without a healthy grassroots, and the European body wishes to reward excellence in the grassroots sector. Each nominee was recommended by the UEFA Grassroots Panel and the UEFA Development and Technical Assistance Committee, and ratified by the UEFA Executive Committee.
The Best Leader gold award has gone to Scotland's Pat Griffin. He was a founder member of Milton Amateur Football Club in Stirling in 1972 and remains the club's heartbeat today. He has served as a player, coach and committee member and has a leading role in activities both on and off the field.
The club has a distinguished history, winning various trophies over the years. Griffin was also instrumental in starting the Milton Football and Sports Club in 2004, which now operates a soccer school, eight boys' youth teams, girls' teams and three adult teams. The club now has over 350 players representing various teams, and this continues to grow as the age groups move on and new players join.
Griffin was also involved in replacing the old ash pitches with astroturf, which the club uses most nights of the week for training and matches. He runs a civil engineering company and continues to ensure they are the main sponsors of the club. His dedication, passion and commitment to grassroots and amateur football have seen him win the Scottish Football Association's People's Award in 2013.
The Best Project gold award has been won by the Bavarian Football Association in Germany. Despite being a football-mad region, Bavaria has been struck by a problem – a fall in birth rate has led to predictions of as much as a 16% drop in the number of youngsters playing for clubs in the area.
In order to try to combat this issue, the Bavarian Football Association came up with the 'Pro-Amateur football' campaign. It focuses on strengthening grassroots and amateur football, and supporting around 4,500 amateur football clubs in Bavaria.
The main focus is on schools. Increasing the availability of football in schools, the scheme has resulted in over 230 link-ups between schools and local clubs. Other aspects of the eight-point project include coach education for trainers of children at local clubs, increased focus on the image of grassroots football on digital platforms and a push to support referees and get youngsters considering becoming officials themselves.
FC Skanderborg in Denmark has won the Best Club gold award. FC Skanderborg is a club in Jylland with more than 1,100 members and 66 teams, which manages the difficult skill of prioritising and integrating both elite and grassroots football. The club feels that the biggest advantage of embracing both the elite and grassroots is that the club has role models for the youngest within the club, while the elite players also take part in developing the youth players.
The club has been a Danish Football Association (DBU) Fair Play Club for several years and has clearly defined fair play guidelines for children, young players and adults. FC Skanderborg works with local schools and other institutions, and are aware of their position as the largest club in the municipality, striving to be pioneers in the region while maintaining respect for smaller clubs. A prime example of this has been the installation of the first artificial turf in the municipality, where all the clubs in the area have the right and opportunity to use the pitch.
The club has six different stadiums/club facilities for training and matches, and with several initiatives – such as activities for children and youngsters, and communal eating – the club manages to create club life and close relations between players and teams of all ages and levels.