Posted By : Nathan Batchelor
Groups and individuals at the forefront of promoting Respect are to be honoured following the Football Association’s recent announcement of the winners of the Respect Awards for 2016.
Respect seeks to address unacceptable behaviour in football on and off the pitch by providing a series of tools for leagues, clubs, coaches, referees, players and parents.
The awards, which are now in their sixth year, salute the individuals, teams and leagues which have been at the forefront of promoting Respect across all levels of the game.
The Respect judging panel was once again inundated with nominations, which serves to demonstrate the tremendous positive contribution that people and organisations make week in, week out to upholding football’s true values.
Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA is extremely pleased that two of the national winners are from the region.
The Grassroots League Award had joint winners with the Sheffield & District Junior League (SDJSL) being recognised for its commitment to instilling the values of Respect across all its thousand-plus member teams through its ‘Respectober’ campaign and in Lincolnshire, the Boston and District Saturday Football League was honoured for its work in uniting disparate football communities – by welcoming the East European Football Club into its ranks and helping the club integrate and form bonds with other teams through inter-club mentoring.
Nathan Batchelor, Secretary of the SDJSL said: “The League is delighted to have won this prestigious award, which would not have been possible without the hard work of everyone involved in the League from players, parents, coaches, managers, welfare officers and referees to create a positive, enjoyable and fun environment to play football in.
“The League is not standing still and next season will see all registered players and referees with the League provided with a free League respect t-shirt that will be ready to give to players and referees for the beginning of Respectober.”
As a league the SDJSL fully committed to the Respect Campaign and will continue to strive and drive the ethos of Respect, with full support from Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA.
Sheffield is also home to the winners from the Women’s game and AFC Unity Ladies has been recognised for its work in developing community programmes. AFC Unity Ladies created ‘Solidarity Soccer’ which encourages girls and women of all levels to get involved – often for their first taste of the beautiful game - and has forged strong links with a host of community organisations. This includes overseeing a local foodbank and becoming an education provider. By encouraging players and spectators to donate food items at games, so far Unity has collected well over 400kg of consumables, with plans to start a soup kitchen at games. Unity also works with local students to help them find sporting and media placements to get a foothold in two very competitive industries.
AFC Unity manager Jay Baker commented: “This is the greatest achievement we’ve experienced in terms of football in our short but incredible history, and frankly my co-founder Jane Watkinson and I are astonished and overwhelmed that an alternative football club such as ourselves has been recognised in this way.”
He added, “Major thanks to Director of Football, Sarah Richards, for proposing the nomination, and to Nick Waterfield, and Sophie Hirst for clinching us the successful nomination itself!”
The rest of the national awards included:
The Individual Award winner was Chris Williamson for his tireless passion and commitment to Cambourne FC in Cambridgeshire.
The Respect People’s Award which went to Worthing-based Heartbeat United
Among clubs, in the grassroots category the joint winners were Seaton Delaval Dynamos and Nott County Ladies’ development team
Laurence Jones, The FA’s Head of Clubs and Leagues, said: “The winners represent the crème de la crème among an inspirational group of leagues, clubs and individuals. Each has shown determination to ensure that the game is played in the manner it should be - by instilling and maintaining Respect in the game.”
“Since its launch in 2007 The FA’s Respect programme has helped achieve a real improvement in behaviour on and off the pitch from the top of the professional game through to the grassroots. It is fitting that those that have excelled over the past season should be recognised for their achievements.”
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