A perfect role model as a volunteer and coach, Fatima Hussein is inspiring children and youngsters in London to love football and to dream – and has been rewarded with the Best Grassroots Leader prize in UEFA's 2019 Grassroots Awards.
Article top media content
Best Grassroots Leader prize winner Fatima Hussein has chosen to use football as a vehicle to improve and develop her own life, as well as help improve her community in north-west London through her volunteering and coaching.
As a young Muslim woman, the 19-year-old has faced reticence to her playing football – but has remained relentless in her drive to dispel these stereotypes. She demonstrates respect and fairness, and thus leads the way for many young people in the school community.
Hussein, whose spell as a player with west London club Queens Park Rangers helped her get into coaching, has become an outstanding role model for young women and for people of different faiths.
As a qualified coach and referee, she is now involved in all aspects of football in her school and local community in the north-west of the capital, coaching children as young as four or five, and refereeing senior women's matches.
"I did a lot of volunteering for my school," Hussein reflects, "such as being an active play leader at lunchtimes and an assistant coach during primary nights, which gave me the confidence and the experience that I needed to grow as a leader.
"I coach because I enjoy it very much," she continues. "I look forward to planning and delivering sessions, seeing progression in the children's abilities, but also seeing them having fun and enjoying themselves.
"I am thankful for everything the community has done for me, such as helping me get my level one [qualifications] and become the confident person I am today. So I believe I also have the responsibility to find young people like I was, and introduce them to the field of volunteering and coaching to then help them develop into better people."
Fatima's message for potential volunteers in football is crystal clear: "It can be hard at times, and you will be challenged socially and mentally – however, it will change your life for the better.
"Inspire young people to do better and encourage them to dream, because that dream might come true – and it will all be because of you."
UEFA Grassroots Awards
The Best Grassroots Leader prize rewards a volunteer coach/organiser who has exhibited exceptional commitment and had a big impact (numbers playing or social significance) over a long period.
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.