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Scottish Para-Football programme wins UEFA Grassroots Award

The Best Disability Initiative for 2021/22 prize heads to Scotland thanks to incredible inclusion work that unites nine forms of disability football under one umbrella.

2021/22 UEFA Grassroots Awards:Best Disability Initiative

Scottish Para-Football was created in 2019 as the world's first disability football national association. Following investment from the Scottish FA, it brings together nine different organisations governing different types of disability football - amputee football, cerebral palsy football, deaf football, frame football, learning disability football, autism football, football memories, mental health football and powerchair football – under a single national umbrella. The result is more access and facilities for disabled people, ensuring more players are taking up the game and being physically active.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Scottish Para-Football provided vital support to people living with disabilities, ensuring opportunities remained in place for some of the nation's most vulnerable groups.

In their own words: Ian Maxwell, chief executive, Scottish FA

"There are one million Scots who identify as having some form of disability and 100,000 of those are children. That's a hugely significant element of society and why we were absolutely delighted to establish the world's first Para-Football Association and ensure that opportunities are available for all. Very simply, we want to make sure that everybody that wants to play football, watch football, write about football or referee football can do so. You don’t do it for awards but when something like this comes along and you're recognised by UEFA as best in class across Europe then it's a terrific achievement for the association and everyone who's played their part in that."

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 Disability Initiative 2021/22: Bronze and Silver winners

Silver: Football Your Way (England)

Football Your Way (FYW) and its range of accessible resources were developed to inspire disabled people to take part in football-based activities in their own homes during the pandemic, highlighting the opportunities available within the game and readying them for a return to action once restrictions were lifted. The campaign achieved more than five million social media impressions, engaging more than 80% of registered disabled players in England.

Bronze: Nobody Offside (Belgium)

A joint initiative between the Royal Belgian Football Association and Voetbal Vlaanderen, Nobody Offside improved communication with the country's disabled players by developing two new tools, distributed free of charge. The first helps coaches improve their communication with players with a learning disability, using a set of pictograms to clarify the content of training sessions. The second is a pocketbook for coaches and club volunteers who work with disabled players, providing tips and best practice on adapted communication.

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 bureau and Development and Technical Assistance Committee.

How does UEFA select the winners?

The criteria for Best Disability Initiative including outstanding grassroots work, delivering a positive social impact and offering a holistic approach to cater for a wide range of participants with a focus on contributing to the growth of disability football. This season, particular attention was paid in looking for a contribution to the return to play following the COVID-19 pandemic while remaining true to UEFA's grassroots philosophy.