Surrey FA held their 2020 Grassroots Football Awards ceremony on Tuesday 11th August, recognising the valuable contributions of those who make grassroots football happen.
The Covid-19 crisis forced the ceremony to take place online for the first time in the event’s history. However, there was no less sparkle to proceedings as they highlighted some of the incredible individuals involved in the grassroots game across the County and provided a fitting tribute to their significant contributions on the night.
Surrey FA were joined by celebrity guests to present the awards, including ex-Crystal Palace, Everton and Charlton striker Marcus Bent and former Eastenders and Hollyoaks star Gemma Bissix. Surrey FA were also joined by CNN’s World Sport anchor Rhiannon Jones, who hosted the ceremony. With limited numbers on site for the event, the winners accepted their awards remotely.
Plans for the event were forced to be put on hold as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. However, Surrey FA’s video content partners Capital Content stepped in to save the day and helped to live-stream the ceremony via YouTube.
Ray Lewis, President of the Surrey FA, said: “What would we do without the hundreds of volunteers who support football in Surrey? Quite simply there would be no football.
We rely on their support to run the County FA, to run our Leagues and work tirelessly for our clubs. To the referees who give their service to all levels of the game.
It is therefore vital for us to say a big thank you to all but also reward just a few who have put in that extra effort for the benefit of others”.
Les Pharo, Chair, Surrey FA added: “These Grassroots football Awards are about recognising all those who embody the spirit of the grassroots game, which of course regardless of the level they may reach, is where the football journey begins. It is an honour and privilege to be involved in recognising some of the remarkable coaches, club officials, referees and parents involved in the game.”
Awards, which included ‘Winners’ and ‘Highly Commended’, were given out across a range of categories..
Club Welfare Officer of the Year
Winner – Stuart Hearn
Stuart has been an active volunteer at Meadow Sports FC for some years now and in 2013 completed the FA’s Welfare Officer workshop. Like many of our volunteers he is an excellent multi tasker being the club Charter Standard Co-ordinator, tournament organiser and he still finds time to manage the U15 Colts team.
Stuart is a very conscientious Club Welfare Officer keeping his safeguarding knowledge up to date through continued learning and is a regular at Surrey FA Club Welfare Officer network events. There is little doubt that Stuart’s work in his role as CWO ensures Meadow Sports FC is a safe and fun environment for all those involved in football at the club. He is a real asset to the club, Surrey FA and the wider football family and is thoroughly deserving of this award.
On receiving the Award, Stuart said, “I have been Welfare Officer at Meadow Sports for 7 years and thankfully there haven’t been too many instances which the club and I have had to deal with. On the odd occasion there have been issues the support from Surrey FA and The FA has been first class.”
Grounds Team of the Year
Winner – Martyn Grove & Matt Kiley, Hambledon FC
Success in this category for Martyn and Matt sees them retaining their Award from last year, winning the award for a third time. Over the last year the duo have worked tirelessly to go above and beyond the standards which are expected of a playing surface at grassroots level. They have also had to face significant challenges in recent months.
On receiving the Award, Matt said: “A big thank you to Surrey FA for their support recently, Sport England and Football Foundation funding has been a massive help to clubs to really help us going through these tough times.”
Highly Commended – Barry Hopper, Horley Town FC and Steve Regan, Nork Park Rangers FC
Grassroots Coach of the Year for Youth
Winner – Martin King, East Surrey Hawks
As a coach of East Surrey Hawks’ disability team, Martin works hard to encourage friendships amongst teammates and parents. He has been approachable coach who is involved because of his love of the sport and to support the children in his team. He has provided an outlet for children where mainstream clubs may have failed and gone above and beyond by supporting parents through their struggles. He has been by the children’s side win, lose or draw and not just supported football but families too. On receiving the award, Martin said, “It’s been a real pleasure to coach the children at East Surrey Hawks this year, and to watch them develop their skills and their love of the game. It’s a real honour to do something I enjoy.”
Highly Commended – Michael Carey, Lingfield Youth FC and Steve Maher, Guildford Saints FC
Grassroots Coach of the Year for Adult
Winner – Steve King, Sutton United Disability
Steve has given young disabled men who can’t play in mainstream clubs the chance to play at a friendly, inclusive club and football opportunities friendly club to get excited about going to every week. He has organised kit for all the players and ensures that they are all able to travel to matches.
On receiving the award, Steve said, “Thank you on behalf of all the coaches at Sutton United Disability Section. What a marvellous job they have done over the last few years to give adults with disabilities fantastic opportunities and providing a safe and friendly atmosphere.”
Highly Commended – Rowan Cox, Kingswood Terriers FC
Grassroots League of the Year
Winner – Surrey Football for All League
The award recognises the work of the League in providing playing opportunities, but also to help players, parents and carers develop strong relationships between clubs and within teams by coming together every month to enjoy football. Additionally, the league aims to develop players and give them non-playing opportunities, through Surrey FA’s Inclusive Coaching and Refereeing Courses for candidates with a disability, and have also planned to run safeguarding workshops, first aid courses and a Mental Health First Aid course for players and club members.
On receiving the award, Surrey Football for All League representative, Dennis Jones said, “This year has been full of challenges and emotions, so to receive such good news will be a great boost for all the clubs, volunteers and players involved.”
Grassroots Club of the Year
Winner –– Guildford Saints Boys & Girls
Guildford Saints FC is a chartered standard development club which currently has 27 teams over the categories of girls, boys, ladies, disability and walking football teams. They are a grassroots club providing Saturday and Sunday League football from U7s through to adults and provide a safe, fun environment for players of all ages to take part in sport, make friends, become part of the footballing family. They are an impressive Club run by a small group of volunteers.
Chairman of Surrey’s Grassroots Club of the Year, Guildford Saints Boys and Girls, Alex Forbes said, “Thank you to all of the volunteers at the club we couldn’t have won this without you, to all the players and parents because that’s what it’s really all about at grassroots level, it’s very much about the community and it’s great that when we get an award like this it reflects well on the whole of the club.”
Highly Commended – Richmond Park FC and AFC Kingston Youth
Grassroots Project of the Year
Winner – Steve King – Sutton United Disability
Steve King formed Sutton United Disability a few years ago and has seen the club from two to 40 players and puts in a huge amount of time and effort for them. He has arranged a 3G pitch to play on and also sourced sponsorship for new kits and equipment. He has made a massive impact on the lives of his players, always there to support his players and in doing so has helped one of his players to overcome depression.
On receiving the award, Steve King said, “A big thank you to the Sutton United Foundation for their support amazing support they have given the disability section. I also want to thank the National League Trust and of course the Surrey FA.”
Rising Star of the Year
Winner – Emma Eaton – East Surrey Girls
Emma has had a huge impact on her local community. Not only does Emma provide coaching for nearly 100 players each week at the club, but she also attends local secondary schools to run their girls after school football lessons. Without Emma, these sessions wouldn’t go ahead as the schools don’t have enough teachers to run the sessions themselves. They are not just aimed at girls who already play football but also for girls of any ability. Emma is passionate about helping to prevent the teenage girls’ participation dropping-off and keeps them playing for longer.
On receiving the Award, Emma Eaton said, ‘I do a lot of work in football but it continues to amaze me is the power of young people and I feel very fortunate to be in a position at East Surrey Girls FC to be a role model to young women coming through and playing the game.’
Highly Commended – Rebecca Moore, R&R FC
Grassroots Match Official of the Year
Winner – Mark Blythe
Mark makes himself available to all interested in the game, he has grown Walking Football both locally and at County level for over five years now and is deserving of recognition for what he has achieved. He is a leader, a listener an absolute inspiration to all and someone who is respected for his commitment. He gives up his time every week for the benefit of others and has built relationships with the foundation elements of professional clubs such as Chelsea, West Ham, and Fulham. He has introduced Women’s Walking Football at a local level too and is seeking to expand this even beyond County level.
On receiving the Award, Mark said, “Being a Chaplain I hear so many stories of tough times but walking football is the joy and highlight of the week for so many. I’m blessed to be able to play my small part with so many lovely people.”
Highly Commended – Dave Key
Volunteer of the Year
Winner – Alan Priddy, South Surrey Youth League
Officially now the Registration & Competitions Secretary, Alan has taken on many roles to ensure the smooth running of the league. For much of the time since its formation in 2010, he combined the roles of league secretary with registrations and fixtures, entailing working up to 60 hours a week for long periods in the run up to the start of each season. His visionary, innovative, approach has been pivotal in building the league into what it is today. The award recognises the great lengths he has gone to in consulting, informing and educating club managers and officials so they fully understand and support the league’s aims and activities.
On receiving his award, Alan Priddy said, “I am honoured and delighted to receive this award. I feel especially privileged because I know there is a large number of volunteers that work ever so hard in Surrey grassroots football to make it the success that it is”.
Highly Commended – Tony Shearman, Claygate Royals FC and Mark Blythe, Walton Walking Football
A FULL RECORDING OF THE CEREMONY CAN BE ACCESSED – FREE TO USE – VIA THE FOLLOWING LINK