VOLUNTEERS CELEBRATED IN THE FA & McDONALD’S GRASSROOTS FOOTBALL AWARDS
The full list of winners of The FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards is now complete, with worthy volunteers from across the country receiving recognition in 12 categories for their inspirational efforts in the local community.
Elsa Jones, Harefield United Youth and Tony Pratt from Middlesex were some of the well-deserved winners, receiving the 2020 Rising Star of the Year, We Only Do Positive Respect and Volunteer of the Year awards respectively.
To say that Elsa Jones has taken Hanwell Town FC by storm is an understatement.
She’s the U18s matchday physio but also runs the gate at every home game, a gate that has got steadily busier thanks to her impressively hard work. Thanks to a half price season ticket offer, which was her idea, attendances have shot up by an incredible 22% this season. She is also responsible for organising the charities present at each game, and has helped them to raise a fantastic £2,500 during 2019-20.
When the season ended abruptly due to the pandemic, Elsa even took the time to pen personalised messages to elderly fans so that they wouldn’t feel lonely during lockdown, a lovely touch that is just so typical of her.
Watch Elsa's story
There are those rare and tragic occasions in football that can shake players to the core. Events that could, potentially, put them off the game for life.
In December 2018, one such event occurred during a regular home fixture for Harefield United U15s, and the shockingly sad scenes their players and families witnessed unfolding before them were unprecedented.
When events like this transcend football it can, at first, be difficult to see a way forward. However, the parents of the Harefield players rallied around their sons in a powerfully heartfelt show of love and support. They’ve helped them through the tough and difficult 18 months since, continually turning out to support the team both home and away and through thick and thin.
WATCH HAREFIELD UNITED'S STORY
At Tithe Farm, home to Rayners Lane FC, it could be argued that Tony Pratt IS Rayners Lane FC. The club is in his blood. His involvement with it stretches back over half a century to 1968, and he’s served them in an impressive variety of voluntary roles since then, including club secretary in the early 1970s.
Across five incredible decades he has worked tirelessly to help run the club to an exceptional level. As if the busy role of Club Secretary wasn’t enough, he’s also been responsible for running the tea hut, collecting spectators’ entrance fees, sweeping the dressing rooms and ensuring the match officials are looked after on Saturdays, Sundays and in midweek.
Not only that, but his hard work tending the pitch was the stuff of legends, before the grass was replaced with a 3G surface in 2018.
Watch Tony's Story
The FA & McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards annually celebrate the efforts of volunteers across England who go the extra mile to support their local communities. Now in its eleventh year, The FA & McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards saw a record amount of entries in 2020. Elsa, Harefield United Youth & Tony join a long list of inspirational grassroots football heroes who have been recognised by the awards programme.
Following receipt of a record 4,761 nominations, The FA worked alongside respective County FAs to select local winners. The list of recipients was then deliberated upon by a judging panel and the full list of national winners from the 12 award categories can now be revealed in full, below:
Grassroots Coach of the Year for Adults: Farouk Menia (London FA)
Grassroots Coach of the Year for Youth: Tony Mitchell (Cheshire FA)
Grounds Team of the Year: Paul Wade – Orpington FC (Kent FA)
Grassroots Club of the Year: Sandbach United (Cheshire FA)
Volunteer of the Year: Tony Pratt (Middlesex FA)
Rising Star of the Year: Elsa Jones (Middlesex FA)
We Only Do Positive Respect: Harefield United U16 (Middlesex FA)
Grassroots Project of the Year: Diversity Football (Oxfordshire FA)
Grassroots Match Official of the Year: Ella Broad (Wiltshire FA)
Grassroots League of the Year: Herts Senior County League (Hertfordshire FA)
Football Restaurant of the Year: Newhaven McDonald’s, Easts Sussex
Bobby Moore Award: Oliver Miller (Manchester FA)
Leigh O’Connor, Middlesex FA CEO said: “We are delighted that not only have we been able to recognise our 10 local Grassroots Football Award winners for the 2019/20 season, but the fact we have now seen three of these truly deserved winners, crowned as the national recipients of their awards really shows the strength of the work that goes on across the county on a day to day basis.”
“Well done to Elsa, Rob and his team of parents, and of course Tony who is a stalwart of Middlesex football, the recognition is deserved as you all make a huge contribution and difference to the game for all those you come across. We look forward to celebrating this momentous occasion with you and our 7 other winners as soon as we can.”
To find out more about all of The FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Award winners for 2020, visit http://www.thefa.com/get-involved/grassroots-football-awards/winners