2017 UEFA Grassroots Awards Winners
Really making a differnce in the world of youth soccer – here is the latest on the 2017 UEFA Grassroots Award Winners — Armenia, Italy and Northern Ireland have won gold in the 2017 UEFA Grassroots Day Awards, which honor the best leaders, clubs, and projects in Europe for the excellence of their work in this crucial sector of the game.
The winners of the 2017 UEFA Grassroots Awards have been approved by the UEFA Executive Committee.
Awards for Best Grassroots Leader, Best Grassroots Project and Best Grassroots Club were ratified by the committee, following recommendations by the UEFA Grassroots Panel bureau and the UEFA Development and Technical Assistance Committee.
The awards reward excellence in the grassroots field – seen by UEFA as crucial in helping to nurture football’s overall good health.
“Grassroots is football’s lifeblood because, without healthy foundations, our sport cannot flourish,” said UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin. “UEFA has always invested heavily in grassroots projects around Europe, and will continue to do so to ensure that football can be played by all.”
“I would like to congratulate the winners of the UEFA Grassroots Awards for their fantastic initiatives,” he added. “I would also like to thank all those who have worked tirelessly to make sure that people of all abilities can play this game at grassroots level.”
“Thanks to their dedication, loyalty, sacrifice and love for the game, the sport’s future is in safe hands.”
The 2017 award winners:
2017 UEFA Grassroots Awards Winner – UEFA Best Grassroots Project
Gold: GiocoCalciando (Italy)
An educational and promotional programme developed by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and the country’s ministry of education, focusing on the implementation of football at primary schools while promoting sporting values, as well as health and activity.
Kannusta Mua – Campaign (Finland) wins the silver award for its work in Helsinki which centres on improving the behaviour of adults in and around children’s football, by using social media and marketing platforms. Bronze goes to Grandmas for Football (Lithuania), a project designed to promote activity and healthy lifestyles in older people, by encouraging children to bring their grandparents to play with them in small-sided games.
2017 UEFA Grassroots Awards Winner – Best Grassroots Club
Gold: St. Oliver Plunkett FC, Belfast (Northern Ireland)
A club using football as a medium to develop young people in a disadvantaged community, by encouraging a sense of pride and belonging. The club is fully engaged with the grassroots programme run by the Irish Football Association (IFA), and fields over 40 teams of boys and girls.
FV Blau-Weiß Gonnesweiler e. V. (Germany) are the silver award winners – a grassroots community club committed to contributing to the integration of refugees – and the bronze award has been won by FK Breznica Pljevlja (Montenegro), a club using sport to foster a spirit of community, as well as to promote healthy lifestyles.
2017 UEFA Grassroots Awards Winner – Best Grassroots Leader
Gold – Senik Arakelyan (Armenia)
A grassroots coach and leader who arranges a wide variety of football activities for able-bodied and disabled players, as well as in orphanages.
Senik Arakelyan has been recognised for his work with children in the Shirak region of Armenia.
Arakelyan is a coach at the ‘Tribune’ grassroots club in the city of Gyumri where almost 1,000 children, teachers and coaches are involved in events and sessions each year. There is a particular focus on girls and women’s football, an area in which he has helped break down barriers.”I started to develop women’s football in 2013,” explained Arakelyan. “It was hard to assemble a team in Gyumri because parents did not allow their daughters to join football clubs. This was the reason I decided to start with orphanage girls. I started training with ten girls on a sand pitch. Gradually
“I started to develop women’s football in 2013,” explained Arakelyan. “It was hard to assemble a team in Gyumri because parents did not allow their daughters to join football clubs. This was the reason I decided to start with orphanage girls. I started training with ten girls on a sand pitch. Gradually the number of participants increased and then we succeeded in the 2015-2016 season and became winners of the A and B groups in the Armenian Women’s Championship.”
“To spread awareness, we organize activities in schools and hold tournaments for girls during the whole year. We make it possible for several hundreds of girls to play football and we choose players from among these girls.”
Arakelyan also organises activities for disabled children and, as the representative of the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA) in Gyumri, visits schools to review their football lessons and offer advice to tutors, while also cooperating closely with local municipalities to organise local tournaments, street events and school competitions.
“Playing football is a pleasure,” Arakelyan says.
“Every person regardless of age, sex, ethnicity or disability has the right to be happy and enjoy this pleasure of playing soccer.”
“In my opinion playing football is about enjoyment, people get a sense of equality and respect playing football,” says Arakelyan.
FFA grassroots specialist, Lala Yeritsyan, said: “People like Senik are very important in football’s development. People like him live for football, they are part of football. They are able to grab children’s attention in their provinces, to make them believe how interesting playing football can be, how important it is as a way of staying healthy.”He was also able to change the attitudes towards women’s football in the province, which is not traditionally very well developed in our country.”
“He was also able to change the attitudes towards women’s football in the province, which is not traditionally very well developed in our country.”
The silver award went to Ralf Klohr (Germany), a dedicated regional association president and innovator whose FairPlayLiga initiative focuses on the implementation of football in a friendly, playful and positive way. Ana Paula Pinho Almeida (Portugal) is the bronze award winner, for her work as a technical coordinator of women’s grassroots at a club providing excellent opportunities for girls to play football.