All winners pose on stage


Jim Taylor
Middlesex FA staged their second annual Grassroots Awards Evening at their Rectory Park headquarters on Friday evening last, 6th September.


Middlesex FA staged their second annual Grassroots Awards Evening at their Rectory Park headquarters on Friday evening last, 6th September.

The event was a resounding success, which was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone in attendance. It successfully showcased the work currently performed across the County and emphasised the changing role of Middlesex FA. It also illustrated the changes in direction taken by grassroots football over the years.

After the assembled company had enjoyed the welcoming drinks and sumptuous buffet, Master of Ceremonies, Michael Heavey took charge of the proceedings. Mike managed the evening’s events with considerable aplomb.

After a brief welcome from Middlesex FA Chairman, John Taylor, Mike launched into the awards. There were 8 awards altogether. The respective recipients were introduced by a short video presentation and then invited onto the stage to receive their award.


This first award of the evening went to “Really Real” and was presented to founders, Asha Mohamud and Ali Zaman, by MFA Chief Executive, Leigh O’Connor. Asha and Ali are university students from West Ealing, who despite studying, doing part-time jobs and caring for siblings, have managed to find time to create “Really Real”, a coaching initiative which provides free football activity for children from the estate where they grew up. They also fundraise to provide transport, food, water and equipment for the children who attend.  Really Real were the National Winners in this category and received that award on the pitch at Wembley on the day of the Community Shield.


Simon Reid, the under 13s coach of Barnet Nightingales girls’ football club won this award, which was presented by Workforce Development Officer, Katie Phillipson. During the presentation, Simon stressed the importance of giving the girls confidence.


This went to the amazing Hayleigh Cowell of Hampton Rangers FC and was presented by Football Development Officer, Ebony Beckford.  Hayleigh is Club Secretary but undertakes many other duties, including coaching and “anything else that needs doing”. She saved the club from extinction and has raised it to Charter Standard status.


This year’s winning project, “Kick Off @ 3”, was co-founded by Michael Wallace and Ashley Levien. Michael explained that the object of their organisation was to break down barriers and bring organisations together. The award was presented by Rob Morris of Hendon FC, who were the previous winners of this award.


The MFA 25 Year Award was presented by Chairman, John Taylor, to Alan Evans, the Secretary of Northwood FC. Alan, who had actually been involved with Northwood for 41 years, emphasised the current lack of volunteers at Senior Club level.


This award went to Omonia Youth Football Club and was presented by Sharon Porter, the MFA’s Designated Safeguarding Officer. Chairman, Michael Pieri, said that the club’s number one priority was to provide a safe environment for its members to enjoy their football.


The seventh award of the evening, presented by Mike Heavey, went to Jacob Ballheimer. Jacob, who is a man of many talents, has established a reputation as a very promising referee, with a sensible and sympathetic approach. This was particularly evident, when a 14-year player died during a match which he was refereeing earlier this season. Jacob’s handling of this tragic situation was praised by those present. It is anticipated that Jacob could go far as a referee but he is currently concentrating on his playing career, as a goalkeeper for Harefield United. He works for MFA as their Communications and Marketing Officer.


This award was presented to Harefield United FC by CEO Leigh O’Connor. They are a village club who are more than just a football club and are a pivotal part of the local community.  Secretary Ray Green, who headed the large Harefield representation that crammed onto the stage, estimates that the club has grown tenfold in recent years. Apart from their senior men’s teams, they have ladies, girls’ and boys’ sides, a total of 21 teams. Ray is convinced that it is particularly important that the Youth Section is directly linked with the senior side.

Harefield United are the oldest football club in Middlesex and have just celebrated the 150th year of their existence. They went the whole of last season unbeaten in the Spartan South Midland League Division 1, winning the league with 5 games to spare. They also won the Middlesex Premier Cup.

Two other items were included in the evening’s programme of events. Tim Ridgewell, from MFA’s Charity Partner, St Luke’s Hospice, gave an impressive presentation, explaining the workings of the hospice. It provides bespoke care and attention, specialist advice and support to terminally ill people within the community. Tim thanked the MFA for its support and for the contributions, raised at matches and other events during the past season totalling £3763. He particularly praised the MFA staff, who had taken part in a marathon static bike ride at HQ.

Mike introduced and compered a panel, which answered questions from the floor and from Mike himself. This panel consisted of Michael Wallace (from Kick Off @ 3), Hayleigh Cowell and Makael Scott (from the Jason Roberts Foundation). Our thanks are given to Jason and Otis Roberts for facilitating Makael’s presence. The views of the panel were interesting and illuminating. Makael, who is only 14 years of age stood up to the ordeal of facing an audience extremely well.

At the end of their discussions. Mike asked each member of the panel what they considered to be their biggest challenge. Michael Wallace said it was “building trust with young people and also finance”. Hayleigh said it was “the communications involved in organising large groups of individuals”. Makael said that “it involved giving confidence to individuals joining the foundation”.

In bringing the evening to a close, Michael thanked everyone who had attended and also those who had made nominations. He also thanked Head of Commercial and Operations, George Wells and all of the MFA staff involved in the preparations and running of the event. This included MFA councillor, technical wizard Gary Street for controlling the video presentations. Finally, the Centre Staff were commended for the fantastic support which they had provided.

Click here for a full Selection of photos, courtesy of chris benn

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