England, Finland and Iceland are the gold winners in the 2018 UEFA Grassroots Awards, which reward leaders, clubs and projects across Europe for their outstanding grassroots football work.
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England, Finland and Iceland have won the gold medals in the 2018 UEFA Grassroots Awards, which honour leaders, clubs and projects in Europe for excellence in the crucial grassroots football sector.
Parm Gill (England), FC Sækó (Iceland) and HJK Helsinki (Finland) won the respective gold awards in three categories – Best Grassroots Leader, Best Grassroots Project and Best Grassroots Club. Silver and bronze awards went to other deserving candidates.
The winners were presented with their prizes by UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin at the House of European Football in Nyon.
The award winners were announced to mark UEFA Grassroots Week, during which activities take place across Europe with the aim of encouraging and inspiring participation in all forms of football.
UEFA Grassroots Week, held this year between 23 and 30 September, is organised in conjunction with the European Week of Sport and in cooperation with the European Commission.
UEFA considers the grassroots essential to helping football maintain its overall good health. They are only able to flourish thanks to the efforts of thousands of volunteers, projects and club around Europe – and UEFA's awards are designed to recognise, celebrate and promote this inspirational work.
"Grassroots football is crucial to the well-being of sport," says Aleksander Čeferin, who has made the nurturing of this sector a key element of his presidency.
"I want to ensure that UEFA continues to work closely with all our member associations," he adds, "to enable everyone to have the opportunity to play and enjoy the sport which we love."
The 2018 UEFA Grassroots Awards winners:
Best Grassroots Leader
The Best Grassroots Leader award goes to a volunteer coach or organiser who has shown exceptional commitment and had a major impact (in playing numbers or social significance) over a long period.
Gold – Parm Gill (England)
Parm Gill has dedicated years of service to trying to give girls and women – particularly from the local Sikh community – in the English south-east town of Gravesend greater opportunity to play and fall in love with football.
The silver award went to Kristina Surdokaitė (Lithuania), an organiser of annual football festivals for up to 500 children, as well as events for children with special needs. Jane Lavery (Scotland) is the bronze award winner for her work as a leader at Pollok United, as club general secretary and coach for the girls and disabled section.
Best Grassroots Project
The Best Grassroot Project award is bestowed upon a special grassroots project run by a regional entity, association, agency or school that has a specific focus on football development, society, education or health.
Gold: FC Sækó (Iceland)
An independent club based in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik that seeks to improve the mental and physical health of people with mental health problems, and to provide them with chances to meet people, play football and have fun.
The Amateur League Concept (Georgia) took the silver award for its pioneering work in grassroots football in Georgia that has led to the organising of regional grassroots leagues and an amateur cup. Bronze goes to Ghetto Football (Latvia), which has united ethnic minorities and helped their social integration, while also encouraging an active lifestyle among young people.
Best Grassroots Club
The Best Grassroots Club award is given to clubs with an inclusive agenda or special purpose which is impressive for reasons including numbers of players, teams or outlook.
Gold: HJK Helsinki (Finland)
HJK operate a renowned grassroots department in Finland with over 3,100 registered players across all levels of society and ability – this makes them a professional club that truly cares for the community and embraces the grassroots game.
City Pirates Antwerp (Belgium) are the silver award winners – a multicultural club with over 1,100 youth players from more than 80 different countries, and which acts as a social platform for people to develop social skills through football. The bronze award belongs to Carrigaline United FC (Republic of Ireland), a community-led club with more than 100 teams, and which focuses on inclusion and accessibility and coordinates activities for children with special needs.
How the UEFA Grassroots Award winners are selected
The UEFA Grassroots Awards have been staged annually since 2010. The awards reward excellence in the grassroots field, with national associations around Europe being invited to propose candidates each year. UEFA's Executive Committee ratifies the awards following recommendations made by the UEFA Grassroots Panel bureau and UEFA's Development and Technical Assistance Committee.