The relationship between the Aberdeen FC Community Trust (AFCCT) and the Scottish Football Association is a model of best practice nationally – an attribute which has earned Aberdeen FC the Best Professional Football Club prize in the 2019 UEFA Grassroots Awards.
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Aberdeen FC are recipients of the Best Professional Football Club prize in the 2019 UEFA Grassroots Awards. The award recognises the Scottish Premiership club's engagement with over 20,200 people in projects centred on three main themes: football for life, education and healthy communities – covering a large geographical area that accounts for around 25% of the entire land mass of Scotland and roughly 10% of the population.
The club and the Scottish Football Association (SFA) have shared goals, resources and even staff members in their efforts to develop a collective vision to increase football participation in the region, to grow local clubs and to create a joined-up player pathway in the local area.
The Aberdeen FC Community Trust (AFCCT) has been helping six local grassroots clubs to achieve the highest level of the SFA's club accreditation scheme.
It is also active in 13 partner schools, organising football-related health and well-being activities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"What price can you put on people feeling better about themselves, and using football as a tool to do that?" asks Steven Sweeney, community operations manager at Aberdeen FC. "It's our responsibility as a football club to reach every part of the community."
The Dons, as the club are known, are proud of their interaction with the SFA and their community endeavours. "I think what we have got is unique," says Sweeney. "It's quite innovative, and I think it's best practice. The approach is simple. it's just about good people trying to do their best to make a difference to grassroots football."
Aberdeen are a club that care passionately about people, which has given the Dons an extremely positive reputation.
"I think part of it is the genuine family feel we have at the club," Sweeney reflects. "[An] authentic community spirit that goes deeper than the football club – that's why we're so determined to share the success and celebrate it together with the club's supporters, all our community partners, our city, our region, and Scottish football as a whole."
UEFA Grassroots Awards
The Best Professional Football Club prize acknowledges outstanding grassroots work by a professional club, promoting in particular a holistic approach to grassroots football and providing for a wide range of participants.
The UEFA Grassroots Awards have been run annually since 2010. The awards salute excellence in the grassroots field, and national associations around Europe are invited to propose candidates each year. UEFA's Executive Committee ratifies the awards following recommendations by the UEFA Grassroots Panel bureau and the UEFA Development and Technical Assistance Committee.