The real grassroots of the game took centre stage in the FA’s annual Respect Awards with the winners announced this week.
The Awards were introduced two years ago to help promote Respect at all levels of the game and to recognise the army of volunteers that spend hours each week ensuring that participants have an enjoyable experience of playing the game.
Respect Leagues have also been able to benefit from a Rewards scheme which offers help with affiliation fees and equipment. The regional winners have been offered the pick of some unique football prizes including match hospitality at an England game, the appearance of the FA Cup at a League’s own cup final, a celebrity speaker for a League function or the chance to stage a game at the new national football centre – St George’s Park in Burton-on-Trent.
The winners of the national awards are guests at the FA Cup Final between Liverpool and Chelsea on May 5.
This year’s national Respect winners include the Isthmian Football League which have this season reduced dissent cautions and significantly improved technical area behaviour.
The David Wilson Holmes Gloucestershire County League caught the eye with an innovative club marking and Fair Play awards scheme.
The relationship between the Leicestershire and District Sunday League, its CFA and professional club have led to three Championship Respect fixtures being staged at Leicester City who have also been recognised for their commitment and willingness to work with the local football community.
Another Leicestershire club Harborough Town took the Award for steps 5-7 of the National League system – a genuine community club with 36 teams which promotes Respect at its registration day, introduced the use of pitch side marshals for all age groups and established a Respect sub-committee to educate parents and players and deal with poor behaviour.
The Amateur Football Combination convinced the judges with its promotion of the ‘Spirit of Football’ and Yeovil Town Ladies incorporated their commitment to playing the game with Respect into their ‘Bills of Rights for spectators.
AFC Fylde achieved their award through a determined approach by the management of the club to ensure that all coaches and players share a code of conduct. This has resulted in an outstanding disciplinary record.
Manchester’s Abraham Moss Warriors Football Club has maintained high standards of behaviour in a club which draws its players from 44 different nationalities.
The East Manchester Junior Football League also impressed by its commitment to proving a positive environment for young players to learn the game.
The Bobby Moore individual award went to Phil Bradley who has dedicated himself to improving the environment of the game in the Northern Premier League with impressive results.
The winners will collect their awards at a ceremony prior to the FA Cup Final in a fortnight. The winners of the Fair Play awards in the Premier League and Football League will be announced following the conclusion of the league fixture programmes.
Former referee Dermot Collins, the FA’s Respect manager, said: “The winners of these awards are an inspirational group of leagues, clubs and individuals.
“They have decided how they want the game to be played and then take on the responsibility of creating and maintaining Respect in the game. It’s a privilege to be able to reward them at The FA’s showpiece final and use their example to convince others along the same path”.
Tags: Dermot Collins, RESPECT, Respect Awards, The FA