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UEFA Grassroots Awards 2023/24: Best Professional Club

Grassroots About UEFA Members

FC DAC 1904, a team in Slovakia’s first division, has won the 2023/24 UEFA Grassroots Award for best professional club thanks to its work helping to unite the local community through engagement with local grassroots football clubs.

Best Professional Club - Slovakia

"Our project stands as a shining example of the harmonious co-existence and cooperation of Hungarians and Slovaks in this region," says Krisztián Németh, the head of youth development at Slovakian team FC DAC 1904, winners of the 2023/24 UEFA Grassroots Award for best professional club.

FC DAC 1904 is based in Dunajská Streda, a town in an ethnically diverse region of southern Slovakia. Németh is one of the people involved in the club’s Kukkonia Liga project, a series of grassroots football initiatives that is helping to bring local communities and organisations together, including festivals, educational workshops and coach development sessions.

"The club is proud of its Hungarian roots, but open to all cultures. The project has been a success because there has been a focus on cooperation, communication, mutual respect and trust between everybody involved," says Németh. "When people see you are working hard, that you want to help, educate and grow together, you get trust."

Supporting youth football in Slovakia

FC DAC 1904 has worked alongside the Slovak Football Association and the local regional football association in supporting Under-9, Under-11 and Under-13 teams in the regional Kukkonia Liga since 2021, involving nearly 800 boys and girls from 32 municipalities.

As part of that support, FC DAC 1904 not only provides equipment and offers up its training facilities, but runs educational sessions on healthy lifestyle and the local region, plus best-practice football training sessions and information on how to access the academy player pathway.

The club has also hosted the Kukkonia Liga Sports Day, where 660 children from 50 teams came together at the club’s training centre.

Facilitating local coach development

The club’s impact stretches beyond the players, with coach development also a focus area. FC DAC 1904 offers biannual coaching workshops and further learning opportunities. Working alongside the Slovakian FA, the club has helped 24 coaches to achieve the UEFA C Diploma.

"The grassroots coaches are very thankful for the courses," says Németh. "We are not only developing them to help grassroots football, but in the future some of the coaches may come and work at the academy."

"The coaches are so important to grassroots clubs, so we have invested and built this relationship with the clubs," adds Németh. "Though representing a small region, we are open-minded and regularly invite specialists from top football cultures to enrich our trainings and courses."

Linking the levels of the European football pyramid

Németh believes that investing in the region and local children is a key role of a professional football club.

"In professional football the most important thing is always the results of games. But in this case, the work is more than football," he explains. "We are really trying to build the community and the relationship between people."

Alongside the football competitions and festivals, players from the grassroots teams are regularly invited to tours of the club’s stadium, with some acting as player mascots before matches, providing them with unforgettable experiences.

"During the activities we have seen the happiness in the eyes of the young players. It is especially important for this club to give back to the region and the local people. We believe we are developing future players, supporters, referees and coaches. We have also identified some really talented players from these age groups who have joined our academy."

Krisztián Németh, FC DAC 1904 head of youth development

Best professional club 2023/24: bronze and silver winners

🥈 Silver: Bohemian FC (Republic of Ireland)

🥉 Bronze: FC Ruh Lviv (Ukraine)

What are the UEFA Grassroots Awards?

The UEFA Grassroots Awards are annual awards given to grassroots football clubs and projects that have made outstanding contributions to the game across Europe. Candidates are nominated by Europe’s national football associations, with the winners selected by UEFA’s Development and Technical Assistance Committee following recommendations from UEFA’s Grassroots Panel.

This year, the UEFA Grassroots Awards are presented in partnership with EA SPORTS FC, as part of the broader partnership between the UEFA Grassroots programme and EA SPORTS FC FUTURES. Each gold winner receives a prize of €10,000 to further contribute to their fantastic work being carried out.

Since their launch in 2010, 142 UEFA Grassroots Awards have been presented to winners from 42 UEFA member associations.