The UEFA Grassroots Conference in Spain offered the perfect opportunity to celebrate the excellent work of the 2021/22 award winners.
Article top media content
The gold award winners, from Belgium, Germany, Moldova, Scotland and Spain, were honoured at a presentation ceremony watched by delegates from UEFA’s 55 member associations, FIFA and other continental confederations, and grassroots experts and guests present for the three-day event in the Spanish capital.
2021/22 gold award winners
Best Amateur Club: IK Dien (Belgium)
Best Professional Club: Athletic Bilbao (Spain)
Best Participation Initiative: Football in Schools (Moldova)
Best Disability Initiative: Scottish Para-Football (Scotland)
Best Social Initiative: Discover Football (Germany)
What are the UEFA Grassroots Awards?
The UEFA Grassroots Awards were launched in 2010, and 111 award winners from 40 national associations have been honoured by UEFA since then.
The awards – gold, silver and bronze – recognise outstanding work below the elite levels of the game, shining a spotlight on projects, clubs and national associations that are raising the standards of grassroots football and providing an important contribution to the communities around them.
Who decides the award winners?
Candidates are nominated by UEFA's 55 member associations. Award winners are selected by UEFA's Executive Committee, following recommendations made by UEFA’s Grassroots Panel and Development and Technical Assistance Committee.
This season, particular attention was paid in looking for a contribution to the return to play following the COVID-19 pandemic, and 90 nominations were received for the five categories.
Thoughts from the gold award winners:
Christophe Vandamme (IK Dien, Belgium)
"We offer football for everyone who wants to practice their favourite hobby. You can play football with Ik Dien until you're 80. Our oldest member is 73. We try to offer them a safe, fun and family-friendly environment."
Ignacio Alonso (Athletic Bilbao, Spain)
"We have a social responsibility. We need to keep working with responsibility to create a safe environment for children. We are also educators and we can’t forget that we have that educational obligation. We have to take care of them."
Ashley Reid (Scottish Football Association)
"We are breaking down barriers, to create opportunities for everybody regardless of ability. Football is so much more than just a game, it's a way of life and for many of the people we work with, it's the only opportunity to get out and feel part of something special."
Dana Rösiger (Discover Football, Germany)
"We wanted to create an NGO to support girls and women. We help in developing coaches and referees and are supporting refugees. We organise festivals and other events if people ask for our support. We are very thankful for the support we’re given."
Diana Bulgaru (Football Association of Moldova)
"Football in schools is a project which helps us to promote football in every single school of our country. We give this opportunity to play to every child in our country. We will do our best to develop the football facilities in schools for the good of the children."
Why UEFA promotes grassroots football
A healthy grassroots game is central to UEFA's strategy to ensure football is the most played, trusted, competitive and engaging sport. Grassroots football:
- Creates a solid foundation for the game
- Provides playing opportunities for all
- Promotes respect, inclusion and equality
- Serves as a vehicle for educational, sporting and social development
- Promotes lifelong participation
- Crucial to the success of elite football