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Winners of UEFA Grassroots Awards announced

Finnish amateur club Ilves was among the winners (Image: UEFA)

Football clubs and organisations from Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Moldova and Poland are celebrating after being recognised by Europe’s football governing body, UEFA.

The UEFA Grassroots Awards has been set up to highlight some of European football’s “lesser-known stars”, celebrating the individuals, clubs, national associations and initiatives that help to develop football for everybody and make a vital contribution to their communities. Launched in 2010, there have been 127 UEFA Grassroots Awards winners from 42 member national associations.

This year’s winners were:

Best Social Initiative: Football Fitness Training Camp (Denmark)
Best Participation Initiative: The Cyprus Football Association (CFA)
Best Amateur Club: Ilves (Finland)
Best Professional Club: Olympique de Marseille (France)
Best Disability Initiative: Women’s amputee football (Poland)

In addition to the five category winners, there was a special award was presented to the Football Association of Moldova, due to its exceptional commitment to delivering aid and providing sporting opportunities to families and children affected by the war in Ukraine.

The winner of the best participation initiative, CFA, was recognised for unifying different elements of grassroots football, increasing youth participation and creating a more positive environment for children to enjoy the game – based less on results and more on enjoyment and fair play.

Previously, private academies operated outside of the CFA’s influence, often playing unregistered or overage players to gain advantage. In 2019, however, the association introduced a new scheme to bring all youth football under its own control.

Four years on, the unification programme has now absorbed all 134 academies across the country into its registration system, meaning 1,047 teams are now providing football for more than 10,000 fully registered five-to-15-year-olds. That means 14,000 matches are played each year, fully funded by the CFA with event and refereeing costs all covered.

Harris Kyrillou, Grassroots Football Manager, CFA, said: “We used to have standings, leagues, qualifications and championship finals from Under-12 upwards, but it was like a small war from the teams, coaches and even the fans.

“Now, the only thing we have in our grassroots championships below the age of 15, is participation, fun, love of the game and football for everyone. At the end of the year we have a huge grassroots festival and all the kids are winners.”

To read more about each winner, visit the UEFA website here.

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