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Middlesex FA Announce Their Grassroots Football Awards Winners For 2020

Jacob Ballheimer
With the start of 2020 throwing up so many uncertainties it is important we take a moment to reflect on what came before.

Middlesex FA Announce Their Grassroots Football Awards Winners For 2020

At the end of what seems a never ending hiatus from football we are delighted to have received 106 nominations across 10 award categories for 57 different Clubs, Leagues, Coaches, Projects, Match Officials, Volunteers and Parents, highlighting the amazing work that was carried out across the county in an unforeseen shortened season.

With the goings on within the lives of many in the first 6 months of 2020, it has been really important for us to take a moment and celebrate what went before the uncertainty COVID-19 has brought to our lives. We were so overwhelmed by the response to the nominations this year, seeing our total number increase by 58.21% from 67 in 2019. Not only did the quantity increase but so did the quality of the nominations we received, making the task of our judging panel no mean feat trying to decide on a shortlist, let alone a winner, with some categories shortlist featuring as many as 7 names.

We are yet to take a decision on how we will be able to celebrate the success of our Grassroots Heroes this year, but rest assured we will find a way to recognise the accomplishment of those who have been named winners this year.

This season there were 10 categories:

  • Grassroots Coach of the Year Youth
  • Grassroots Coach of the Year Adult
  • Grassroots Match Official of the Year
  • Grassroots Club of the Year
  • Grassroots Project of the Year
  • Grassroots League of the Year
  • Grounds Team of the Year
  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Rising Star of the Year
  • We Only Do Positive – RESPECT Award

We had nominations in each category and all of the 57 different nominees are grassroots heroes in their own right and deserve to be recognised for their hard work, but we could only have 1 winner in each category.

Your Grassroots Football Award Winners for 2020 are as follows:

Grassroots Coach of the Year, Youth FootballBen Payne of Harefield United Youth, alongside shift work at Heathrow Airport as an engineer for British Airways, Ben leads the way for the youth section of Harefield United, the oldest club in the county. Ben takes time to coach 2 teams along with the newly formed ‘Mini Hares’ Saturday morning sessions. He provides a supportive and positive environment that is key to helping his players develop.

Grassroots Coach of the Year, Adult Football – Tarik Kaidi of Minds United FC, Tarik founded, runs and coaches the team operating in West London. The club provides a key service to those who need support. Tarik encourages confidence and respite from the struggles his players face. His team play in the Middlesex FA North West London Mental Health Football League, playing their games at Brunel University once a month and spending their time with regular training outside of this.

Grassroots Match Official of the Year – Andy Kowalski, has been a Middlesex FA referee for over 10 years. He is a very active referee popping up all over the place and is just as likely to be found officiating a charity match as he is walking football, a women’s game or a youth game. He is a strong voice of support for our 2019 Grassroots Project of the Year winners, KickOff@3 and whilst he continues to support their work, he has also linked up with his friends at Uxbridge Amblers supporting their new and now award winning ‘Forget Me Not FC’ project.

Grassroots Club of the Year – Hanwell Town FC, the club have gone from strength to strength during the 2019/20 season. With key works around their ground to make the club more accessible to their elderly supporters. They have also made strides in the work they do within their community and for local charities. This season they have provided a match day collection for Ealing Foodbank, written to their elderly supporters during lockdown to ensure they retain contact and support their mental health. They also put the importance of talking about mental health in football at the forefront of what they do, with a fantastic piece on one of their players along with full support for many of The FA’s and charities mental health campaigns.

Grassroots Project of the Year – Forget Me Not FC, a new project for the 2019/20 season run by Mick and his team at Uxbridge Amblers Walking Football Club. The project looked to use the power of football to provide a release and opportunity for those with Dementia, and those who care for them. The project brings together a group of people who may never meet in normal circumstances and through the power of football gives them a way to connect with days gone by and also be around people in a similar position to them and their families. Having witnessed this on site at Rectory Park, the smiles we saw around the room throughout the session were proof enough just how effective the sessions are.

Grassroots League of the Year – Middlesex Youth Football League, this season sees two of the leagues long standing committee members, Dave Chana and Lawrence Cummings step aside from league duties. Even with this being their last season at the helm, they were still keen to innovate and progress the league that they were leaving behind. They worked closely with Kelly Hancock to implement monthly RESPECT awards across the league and to become our pilot RESPECT league within Middlesex. Working hard to improve the environment all of their players experience no matter where or who they play.

Grounds Team of the Year – Tom Duffy & Glyn Jones, this duo are the key forces behind the ground works around Hanwell Town’s Powerday Stadium home. Whilst Tom cares for the pitch keeping it in shape as one of the best natural grass surfaces in the county, Glyn can be found hard at work improving the walkways, building ramps, repairing the surface in the car park and much more. They often go above and beyond the call of duty and share a ‘nothing is impossible” attitude that really makes them and the club tick.

Volunteer of the Year – Tony Pratt, has been going down to Tithe Farm Social Club and volunteering with Rayners Lane FC since the early 70’s, meaning with this year being his last helping out around the club he’s been an active member of their community across 5 decades. In this time he has done many things around the club, from being the secretary, to making sure the pitch was ready to be used for any match, whether the old grass pitch or their newly installed artificial surface. These kinds of volunteers are rare and even rarer is the longevity Tony has shown.

Rising Star of the Year – Elsa Jones, is a young lady who has taken Hanwell Town by storm, not only helping their U18’s side as a match day physio but also bringing with her a seemingly endless number of new ideas to progress and benefit the club. From running the gate on matchdays to introducing a half price season ticket offer, running the social media accounts and organising charity events, her work has helped to raise the profile of the club. Through all of these new introductions she has helped the club to see attendance increase by 22%, the number of follows the club has on social media continues to creep up by the hundred and across the range of local charities the club has now supported she has helped them raise a combined total of more than £2,500. When the football season came to an abrupt halt due to COVID-19 she didn’t sit around wondering when football would be back, she took the initiative and penned personalised messages to the clubs elderly fans who don’t have social media to ensure they weren’t lonely during lockdown.

We Only Do Positive – RESPECT Award – Harefield United Youth U16s, this award was targeted at parents creating a positive environment for their players. In December 2018 this team were involved in a fatal accident during a league match. The accident saw an opposition player lose his life. With the players aged just 14 and 15 this was a key point in not only their footballing development but also their lives. This group of parents has stood by the players through this experience to ensure the players all continue to prosper and enjoy the release football brings. They make referees and opposition feel welcome and continue to lead the way to ensure a positive football experience is had by all.

On the 2020 awards, Leigh O’Connor, Middlesex FA CEO, said, “We continue to see a growth in nominations across the county and every season we see new initiatives, behaviours and standards being set across the county. We take great pride in the work that all of our volunteers, clubs, match officials and coaches do every season.”

“Congratulations to all of this seasons winners who have worked so hard to provide the best possible footballing experience to all those they support, to those who were nominated, congratulations your work has not gone unnoticed and we can’t wait to see how you continue to develop and progress the work you have already started.”

“By sharing your nominations, we are able to celebrate all the work that can often go unseen and this also help us to develop and to improve the football on offer across the county. We hope to be able to share a celebration with this year’s winners as soon as we can, but in the meantime, we look forward to working with the Middlesex football community to ensure a safe and effective return to football as we know it.”

Well done to all of this year’s nominees and winners, a full list can be found below.

Middlesex GFA 2020 Nominees and Winners

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