Discover Football takes the Best Social Initiative prize for its work in promoting equality and fighting discrimination through the beautiful game.
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Since 2009, Discover Football has been using football to fight for girls', women's and LGBTQI+ rights, advocating for a world in which anyone can practice sport without the threat of discrimination.
Founded by a group of committed football enthusiasts, the NGO organises the biennial Discover Football Festival, as well as international exchanges, conferences, workshops, seminars and tournaments where women acquire skills and knowledge to help them gain autonomy, social mobility and power.
Discover Football promotes and lives equality, emancipation and women's rights.
In their own words: Pia Mann, organising committee, Discover Football:
"Our vision and mission is to create a world where women and girls can play sports all over the world without being discriminated against for any reason. We've brought together many women and femininities who wouldn’t have met otherwise if it hadn’t been for our projects, and we use football as a tool to meet people to exchange ideas and for mutual empowerment. We are very happy to win the UEFA Grassroots Award. We feel honoured and it's a great recognition of the work that we've done for more than ten years."
Aleksander Čeferin, UEFA president:
"Selecting the winners of the UEFA Grassroots Awards is always an enjoyable and inspiring task. It highlights the impressive, inclusive, and noteworthy projects of national associations and clubs across the continent, whose influence often sways beyond sports.
"Congratulations to the winners, and I wish you and all the nominees even more future success as you continue to forge these outstanding projects that have an essential impact on the game's growth and your communities."
Best Social Initiative 2021/22: Bronze and Silver winners
Silver: Time to Tackle (Scotland)
Launched in October 2019 by husband and wife, Aaron and Siobhán Connolly, Time to Tackle aims to help people suffering with mental health problems, poor physical health, stigma and loneliness, using football to provide social opportunities and build relationships between participants. Combining five-a-side activities with group discussion, the programme also enters teams into charity tournaments and during the COVID-19 pandemic, provided a vital service to ensure people had daily social contact and did not feel isolated.
Bronze: Tirana United (Albania)
Based in one of the city's poorest areas, Tirana United is a community transformation initiative which has helped build a new sports centre used by families with severe financial and social problems. Despite the pandemic, staff and volunteers have established a grassroots football programme to promote social inclusion and gender balance, battling crime and violence and creating a sense of unity among participating children and young people.
About the UEFA Grassroots Awards
Since 2010, the UEFA Grassroots Awards have celebrated excellence beneath the elite levels of European football, highlighting the unsung heroes whose dedication allows the game to thrive and provides a foundation for the wider development of the sport.
Candidates are nominated by UEFA's member national associations, with award winners selected by UEFA's Executive Committee, following recommendations made by the organisation's Grassroots Panel and Development and Technical Assistance Committee.
How does UEFA select the winners?
The criteria for Best Social Initiative include outstanding work on community football initiatives with a focus on social impact by addressing human rights, such as equality and inclusion, health and well-being, child and youth safeguarding or the environment. This season, particular attention was paid in looking for a contribution to the return to play following the pandemic.