BIRMINGHAM COUNTY FA IS DELIGHTED TO REVEAL THE 10 WINNERS OF ITS 2020 FA AND MCDONALD’S GRASSROOTS FOOTBALL AWARDS
After almost 200 nominations were submitted by the local grassroots football community, a Birmingham County FA judging panel has selected the winners of its prestigious FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards for the 2019/20 season.
The FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards are for people who make a positive difference. It’s our way to celebrate the fantastic individuals who put their heart and soul into the grassroots game– and say a huge thank you for all of their efforts.
This year’s Birmingham County FA winners are listed below, alongside their award nominations.
Impress: Jon has done a fantastic job since being appointed Head Coach of AFC Solihull, making the club a better environment for all players and staff. I am impressed with how the club has included the community, making it a positive and welcoming club for everyone.
Impact: When Jon took over at AFC Solihull the club was really struggling with results and engagement. Jon has introduced a refreshing approach to the club by progressing youth into the first team. Before Jon took over some players were close to giving up football entirely, Jon has since got them back believing in themselves with his positive attitude towards the club.
Stand out / deserve: It is a small club in the heart of Solihull with a lot of potential. Jon has seen it is a project to bring the community together. Jon is creating a pathway of development and he makes the players fall back in love with football. Jon’s style of play is progressive and energising.
Impact: When my son first started to play football at the age of seven it was my first meeting with Glenn. He inspired me to become involved with the club, he has worked tirelessly to help rebuild the club from the three teams they had in 2010 to the current eight teams plus a strong soccer school turn out. Thanks to his hard work with the soccer school we were able to enter two under-7s teams in the league for the first time in 20 years of the club’s 42 year history. He has continued to engage both the under-7s team and soccer school via social media by videoing daily challenges with demonstrations.
Stand out / deserve: Glenn is 31 now and has stayed with the club from the age of eight. His commitment and dedication to the sport is second to none. Throughout the lockdown he has put out daily challenges on social media both to the 16 under-7s but also drills for the 8s and 9s as well as the soccer school. He has inspired all the parent coaches we have in the club, he will support any age group at training sessions and often trains two-three nights a week, also running one-to-one sessions where parents have requested. He believes in equality and opportunity for all levels of ability.
Comments: Glen is also married with two children and he travels from Tamworth to Leicester every day yet still manages all of the above; he has stayed loyal to his grassroots football club from child to present. I believe this is the type of young individual the FA needs to acknowledge for the dedication and love of the game he has, along with the respect he creates.
Impress: As a club we provide for children and adults who have Downs Syndrome. We run sessions that are inclusive for all and look to involve siblings and parents where possible. We ran a competition for our players to design their own kit and this has come to fruition. Starting off three years ago with three members we now have a cohort of 14 players who without us would not get the opportunity they have to play within a PAN Disability set up.
Impact: We provide opportunities for players who would not have the playing opportunities in a PAN Disability League. This is proven by the areas our members travel from across the county in order to get to our sessions. We are based in Redditch and have members from Redditch, Halesowen, Earlswood, Bartley Green, Solihull, Kings Norton, Bromsgrove (Worcs) and Kingswinford. We have developed not only the football skills (technical and tactical) but we have a real focus on the social and psychological aspects of the game. We have made players more confident and have improved their health.
Stand out / deserve: We are one of the only clubs to offer bespoke sessions to players with Downs Syndrome across the Midlands. We are pioneers and are leading the way to create the first FA affiliated Downs Syndrome League. We work closely with DS Active and this enables us to offer extra opportunities for our members and their families. We try and make the club player focussed by giving them the decisions, e.g. design your kit, pick your Christmas party, organise the sessions (with coach support). This helps develop the players away from football, giving them more opportunities and empowering them.
Impress: A fabulous grassroots league that spreads well beyond the market town in terms of its influence. From a refereeing perspective I have enjoyed nine years of great fun as well as personal developments. Each time there has been the tiniest of glitches (happily there have been just a few!) a representative has contacted me and the problem has invariably been ironed out.
Impact: Apart from refereeing (last year’s winner Chad Roberts was a product of this) they show a positive attitude towards girls’ football, recognise the sensible use of Twitter and Facebook, and are keen to develop futsal. However, they excel at their main task which is to provide a marvellous arena for children’s football in its rich variety of forms - developmental and competitive.
Stand out / deserve: Other leagues I’ve worked for are totally eclipsed by the SDYFL. It is mainly the attention to detail that they give. Celebratory cup competitions at the end of each season (except this one) in which both winners and losers are made to feel so important are especially impactful. They also support summer tournaments that give children even more opportunities to play our national game.
Comments: As a recently retired teacher with 38 years’ experience I have seen close up how these guys have made such a magnificent attempt to make up the shortfall from the decline of school sport.
Impact: All of Dean’s managers are volunteers; how he keeps finding people I’ll never know! He has a way about him that inspires you to want to help. He got me to become a manger when my work diary is immense but so is his, and he does more, so it inspires me to do more and five years on we have a great squad, all local lads, the core of which all came from All Stars together!
Stand out / deserve: This person simply does it all. Coaches every year, without family members in the team, he just loves footy! He’s the first person everyone calls - ‘dean - no line paint at X field’ or ‘Dean - goals broken at Y field’ or ‘Dean - what’s the code for Z club house’ - his WhatsApp lights up every week and he doesn’t like asking us all to help as we’re busy, so he does most on his own! Also gets the playing kit ordered, the equipment, the weekly Player of the Match medals, etc. He’s also got Girls Wildcats training approved to get more girls into football - he simply never stops!
Comments: What inspired me to write is just last week after such a terrible season for us (so many waterlogged pitches / games cancelled and now CV-19) the club is massively down on finances, he comes up with a dream. Not thinking of the club and how we can recoup the lost revenue, he has a dream to pay for every child who wants to join and play next season, as he’s worried parents won’t have the money and they won’t let the kids play footy. So, we’re now embarking on fundraising schemes to raise £130 per child to let all play - now that’s a grassroots football leader!
Impress: Kerri has been a member of RTGWFC for a number of years. First as a player and now as the youngest player for our women’s team, mini soccer referee and coach of our youngest Wildcats team, Kerri is hugely popular with the players and parents alike. I am impressed with how she plans her sessions and keeps the younger players engaged. Any interaction I have with Kerri is relaxed and enjoyable. Her huge enthusiasm for playing and coaching football is clear to see. I am very grateful indeed that she is my youngest daughter’s coach.
Impact: Her friendliness, passion and positive attitude influence all who meet her. She is approachable and organised. I have no doubt that her positive attitude and behaviour is a major contributing factor in RTGWFC recently setting up our first U7 age group team. Kerri is contributing to providing a fantastic opportunity for the next generation of female footballers to experience and develop a love for the game.
Stand out / deserve: All of our volunteers at RTGWFC are hugely committed. We love our club and want to offer the best environment for all our members. What makes Kerri stand out is her levels of commitment, enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment is, I feel, quite remarkable for a 17 year old. She is quietly confident about her ability and has a natural and easy way with member of the team she coaches. There are not many 17 year olds who would be comfortable and skilled enough to take on the responsibility Kerri has and deliver to such a high level.
Leamington Football Club have partnered with Novus, who deliver education and training to adults and young people in UK prisons, and the team at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (STC), to deliver weekly football sessions to the young people at the centre in Rugby. Coaching staff from the National League North club are working with a group of boys and girls at Rainsbrook STC on a weekly basis taking them through their paces in a series of football training sessions.
The benefit of sport to young people in a custodial environment and the role it can play in rehabilitation cannot be underestimated. Sport supports their physical and mental wellbeing, it can help to improve behaviour, develop communication skills, and instil the motivation and skills that will support young people on a pathway into education and employment. Steve Byrne, Director of Youth Justice at Novus, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the young people here to take part in activities that take them beyond the classroom environment and we are delighted that LFC are giving their time.”
Paul O’Rafferty, Director of Leamington FC added: “We are really pleased to be working in partnership with Novus in Rainsbrook STC. We believe this is a great opportunity for our club to be delivering football sessions on a weekly basis to the young people at the centre. The take up has been fantastic and we are very happy to contribute to the development of these young people in helping turn their lives around by showing them that there are life-changing opportunities available for them to take in the future. The young people have really got on board with the project.”
Stuart Jessop, Director of Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre, MTCnovo said: “It’s fantastic to see the young people at Rainsbrook STC get involved with the weekly football sessions. I would like to thank both Novus and Leamington FC for giving them something positive to be part of. We all know that taking part in sport is good for young people’s development, heath and general wellbeing and for some, it may even create a career path opportunity. Rainsbrook STC accommodates young people aged between 12 and 18 who are either serving a custodial sentence or are remanded.”
Impress: He is always positive around our team, both with players and parents. He does not have a bad word for anyone and is full of encouragement for everyone involved. When we do fundraisers again he is always first to help out and on top of all this when we are not appointed a referee he steps in and does a fantastic job under massive pressure from 14 year olds, opposition parents and coaches; a true inspiration to any parent. He’s been supporting my team since his lad was six years old and is still going strong as they move to under-15. I could not think of anyone more deserving of this award.
Impact: Just brings positivity to the team both on and off the pitch, everyone respects what he does and how he gets involved. Always interested in others and brings a sociable vibe to the team and is very respectable and won’t hear others bad-mouthing parents or kids. He is just great to have around and I’m very lucky to have had him for the last nine seasons.
Stand out / deserve: His attitude and positive thoughts, comments to the players before and after games, taking on other duties like refereeing, social events and fundraising; the list is endless. In the nine seasons he’s been with me we have never had a disagreement in regards to the team. He calls me especially when he knows when I am down or do not seem myself.
Impress: Alan is fantastic servant for all the leagues that he officiates on. He is well into his 70s and is still officiating. He has recently been diagnosed with cancer but is still very fit, a very keen referee and a great help for young referees coming through.
Impact: Alan has always been there to support myself and other new and young referees with advice of difficult situations. He has been a great ambassador for local football and youth football lately. Alan is a person everybody gets on with and everybody looks up to him. His passion and personality makes him a great person to be around.
Stand out / deserve: Alan has been a referee for many years and has helped many referees progress to higher levels, as well as running local football leagues and being a referee secretary and is always only a phone call away to offer advice. Alan has a stature about him and always has your back in every situation.
Comments: For the past few years Alan has had to retire from work to be a carer for his wife who has the onset of dementia. He has always made himself available to referee at any level for all age groups. Alan has also received terrible news personally about his own health but still puts others first.
Dawn has worked as the welfare officer volunteering her services since Phoenix United Football Club was set up 18 years ago. Phoenix United was a club set up specifically looking at providing football/health and diversionary opportunities for disadvantaged children in the West of Birmingham, primarily Erdington, Lozells, Aston, Newtown and the Nechells.
Dawn has worked extensively in ensuring that the club runs efficiently and that the welfare of all the children attending is at the forefront of everything she does. She has worked without judgement in collaboration and in partnership first and foremost with children and their families, carers, coaches, managers within the club and the Aston Villa Football Club. She also sits on the Senior Leadership Team and attends meetings with the FA looking at investigations and disciplinary hearing.
There has been numerous times where Dawn has intervened on behalf of our some of our most vulnerable children in the community to offer opportunities to divert them from offending behaviour. Some of the edge of child exploitation and/or joining gangs and worked effortlessly to turn their lives around being the bridge between the parents and the club to keep them in football as a diversion tactic and turning their lives around where their behaviour has improved and has diverted them of the downward spiral.
In terms of families that are vulnerable and unable to pay full subs due to poverty and low income, Dawn has worked with them and at times has allowed the subs to be paid by the club to allow them to continue to attend football just to support the parents and carers and ensure that the children who most need to be diverted attend football. This has resulted in some positive outcomes for our children and prevented them at times from being permanently excluded from school and/or offending behaviour.
She has worked tirelessly, galvanising the club leaders, managers and coaches, motivating and inspiring them to undertake fundraising activities to take some of our most disadvantaged children on football tournaments abroad. In one example, liaising with the Home Office and writing to them to enable visas to be issued for the children to travel to another country. In addition, she has in her own time supported parents to complete passport applications for their children to enable all children regardless of their background or circumstances to travel abroad and experience different cultures in different countries whilst having the enjoyment of playing football. Some of our children had never left the country before and perhaps never would experience this in their childhood. This experience has enabled the children to create some of the best memories and long term friendships and relationships.
Whilst abroad she worked tirelessly always ensuring that the children’s welfare was promoted and basic and emotional needs were met. This was one of her biggest achievements, the fundraising, arrangement and escorting and caring for some of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children to another country. Dawn Miller is a well- respected welfare officer and member of the Phoenix club. She is hard working and goes above and beyond whilst holding down her day job to continually work for the benefit of the players first and foremost and the club as a whole. I have ensured that I have liaised and communicated with senior members of the club in writing this nomination and it is supported by all.
COMMENTS FROM BIRMINGHAM COUNTY FA
Richard Lindsay, Birmingham County FA Business Insight Manager, said: “Birmingham County FA fully appreciates that without the help, support and passionate dedication of its grassroots volunteers, football simply would not happen in our region. Through the FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards we are able to recognise individuals, clubs, teams, leagues and supporters who have gone above and beyond to make football a success both on and off the field.
“This year more than ever we have seen the positive impact local volunteers have had on communities and we have been bowled over by the way grassroots football has pulled together to offer its support during the most challenging of times.
“We are extremely proud of all of our winners this year and each of them are fully deserving of their individual accolades. Hopefully they can get to share their success with colleagues, family and friends very soon.”
All 10 local winners will now go forward to represent Birmingham at the regional stage of the competition, so the very best of luck to you all. Our thanks also go to everyone who submitted a nomination, and to those who supported the judging process. For further updates about our 2020 award winners, please keep an eye on our website and social media channels.