A bumper summer of sport continued on Tuesday 16 July as Surrey FA held its annual Grassroots Football Awards at Guildford’s Harbour Hotel.
The presentations recognised clubs, leagues and individuals who have done fantastic work over the last 12 months and made a real difference to the grassroots game in Surrey.
The Awards are an annual celebration of all that is great in the game and a way of Surrey FA saying thank you for the tireless efforts of the Award winners and other key figures who have dedicated their lives to serving football in the community.
The ceremony was hosted by Lyndsey Hooper, BBC Sport reporter and presenter of Premier League News. She was joined by other notable figures from the professional and grassroots games in presenting the awards.
The line-up included Crystal Palace legend Mark Bright, ex-Wimbledon footballer and Kick it Out ambassador Marcus Gayle and his former Jamaican international teammate and current QPR under-23s manager, Paul Hall.
Chelsea Football Club were represented across both the men’s and women’s games with former player and current youth coach Jon Harley joining rising star Bethany England.
Dave Anderson, who guided Chertsey Town to FA Vase victory at Wembley in May, and national referee Craig Hicks were also amongst the guests.
Les Pharo, Surrey FA Chair, said: “These Awards are about recognising all those who embody the spirit of the grassroots game. What better way to celebrate some of the remarkable coaches, club officials, referees and parents.”
Steve Bradshaw, Surrey FA Chief Executive, said: “These Awards demonstrate some of the amazing stories there are around grassroots football in Surrey. Some of the professional players who were here this evening summed it up perfectly by saying grassroots football is where it all starts and it’s about the work of the volunteers giving up their time to support young people to enjoy the game.”
CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTOS OF THE AWARDS NIGHT
Awards, which included ‘Winners’ and ‘Highly Commended’, were given out across a range of categories. The ceremony also saw Surrey FA present their long service awards, recognising those who have given up countless hours of their time to the grassroots game for between 15 and 50 years.
Club Welfare Officer of the Year
Winner – Nikki Simmonds
Nikki completed her Welfare Officer workshop in 2010 and works with Guildford City Boys and Girls. In addition, she works closely with the club’s coaches and volunteers to ensure their training is up-to-date and are fully compliant with the current Safeguarding Operating Standards. The club currently boasts 19 youth teams, ranging from under-8 to under-18.
On receiving the Award, Nikki said: “I am absolutely amazed I won actually. I’ve been Club Welfare Officer for a number of years and been with Guildford City Football Club for more than 23 years. It’s so important to make sure all our children are safe and that all are checks are up-to-date.”
Grounds Team of the Year
Winner – Martyn Grove & Matt Kiley, Hambledon FC
Success in this category for Martyn and Matt sees them retaining their Award from last year and since that time the duo have worked tirelessly to go above and beyond the standards which are expected of a playing surface at grassroots level.
On receiving the Award, Matt said: “It’s a fantastic achievement, it makes all the days marking out the pitch in the wind and the pouring rain and dragging the hoses round and the sprinklers when everyone else is enjoying the summer, worthwhile. It’s a great award to get and we are really chuffed.”
Grassroots Coach of the Year
Winner – Jay Thomas, Battlebridge FC
As a volunteer coach, Jay Thomas represents Battlebridge Football Club in running their junior disability teams.
On receiving the Award, Jay said: “When I found out I was nominated by my fellow coaches, it was unbelievable but to actually win is amazing. I don’t believe I do anything special, I am just there every week for training and for tournaments, but the best thing is to see the kids from the age of six go all the way through the club. To any coach, I would just say enjoy it because you never realise what you are doing until you get feedback from people and that’s probably the best thing.”
Highly Commended – Leon Turner, Manorcroft United JFC
Grassroots League of the Year
Winner – Surrey Primary League
The Surrey Primary League champion both their own Respect initiatives and those run by The FA, in improving communications, simplifying administration and organising more league events. The launch of their new Respect League Table provides visibility to teams and clubs on the players, coaches and spectator marks that they have received from their opposition teams. The Surrey Primary League have had a 95% approval rating for overall service – up 14% over the last two seasons.
On receiving the Award, Surrey Primary League representative Tim Wilson said: “It’s great recognition for the small group of volunteers we have helping run a league of more than 5,000 fixtures so it’s good to know that what we are doing is good for the game.”
Highly Commended – Surrey County Women’s & Girls’ League
On receiving the Award, Surrey County Women’s & Girls’ League representative Karen Bailey, said: “We are delighted to win this Award. It’s nice to be recognised particularly this year given how well the England women’s senior team did in the World Cup which I’m sure will inspire a lot of girls to come and play football. I first got involved in football through my daughter and now I know that 3,000 girls won’t be playing unless I do it, it’s good fun even for the parents watching so it’s a community really”.
Grassroots Club of the Year
Winner –– Beacon Hill JFC
The club first started with a small number of boys but has now grown to more than 300 boys and girls with the ethos of making football ‘for everyone’ and their mission ‘that every training session and every match day is safe’.
On receiving the Award, Beacon Hill representative Alex Gowing said: “As a club, we are very proud to get this Award from Surrey FA. I think it’s great recognition for all the hard work that all the volunteers put into the club. We have around 58 coaches coaching across 340 kids, boys and girls, so for the volunteers this Award is really nice. We are a small village but attract players from a wide area because of the success of the club. For us it’s about creating a nice, safe environment for the kids to come and play and get pleasure of playing with their friends and we know if we create the right environment that they will come back week after week and year after year.”
Highly Commended – Manorcroft United JFC
Grassroots Project of the Year
Winner – Caterham Pumas Youth FC
Through Jamie Hardgrave’s work, the ground has been redeveloped to leave a legacy for all teams and boys and girls of the club. Also installed is signage around the ground emphasising the Respect ‘We Only Do Positive’ initiative. Jamie has also created a free soccer school which is now attended by many more local children aged between four and eight.
On receiving the Award, Caterham Pumas Youth FC representative Jamie Hardgrave said: “This is an absolutely fantastic Award for us. We’ve put a lot of work into ground improvements as well as helping to create positive vibe around the ground. With mini soccer, we started with four kids last October and now have about 60 kids coming in. It’s all free, they get a free kit and play for free every Sunday. We’ve got enough players now to make up five teams. It’s an amazing achievement for the club and winning this Award really helps us raise our profile.”
Respect Award – ‘We Only Do Positive’
Winner – Croygas Pirates
On receiving the Award, Croygas Pirates representative Bob Watson said: “Winning this Award from Surrey FA is a fantastic achievement for our team and the boys and girls who play for us. We are a mixed disability team, they deserve everything they have achieved over these last few years. I have coached in all sorts of football but being involved in the ‘Football For All’ league is the most rewarding football you can be in. The kids, parents, referees are all fantastic as are the people who run it. It’s a real breath of fresh air.”
Highly Commended – Pirbright Premier
On receiving the Award, Pirbright Premier representative Lee Sawkins said: “It’s fantastic to win this Award from Surrey FA. We had the Respect logo on our shirts and promoted it throughout the season with our under-13s team. We’ve won previous awards around Respect as it’s a big part of our club ethos. All the staff, coaches, volunteers, parents and players make it a real team effort which has been superb. Respect is about enjoying the game, giving your all and making sure you abide by the guidance and displaying good behaviour.”
Highly Commended – Surrey Primary League
Highly Commended – Motspur Park
Grassroots Match Official of the Year
Winner – Patric Bakhuizen
Patric, from Woking, has run numerous refereeing courses and has been both Chairman of the Woking Referees’ Association and now the Surrey County Referees’ Association. He has also organised two assistant referee workshops for two local youth leagues.
On receiving the Award, Patric said: “I am massively overwhelmed to receive this Award from Surrey FA. You don’t do it for the accolades, you do it because you enjoy football. I am now teaching refereeing and that has given me even more pleasure, to see young referees come through the system is really exciting. My biggest responsibility is the Referees’ Association and that’s the thing that really gives you that backbone of refereeing. To any young referee, I would say enjoy it. There is help and advice to really support you.”
Highly Commended – Lucy Clark
Volunteer of the Year
Winner – Dawn Davies, Guildford Saints FC
On receiving the Award, Dawn, who is from Guildford said: “I just love the game and the reason I got involved in football was because of my children and, as ever, grassroots clubs always need volunteers. I decided firstly to become a coach and after a few years they needed a secretary and I’ve been doing that now for more than 20 years. About 10 years ago I started the Ladies football team for Guildford Saints, primarily juniors, for the love of the game. When I see all the children out playing football on the field, I just can’t describe the feeling, it’s just amazing to be part of something so big and so successful.”
Highly Commended – Lee Ludlow, Met Police Youth FC
On receiving the Award, Lee said: “It’s quite humbling to win this Award. Looking around the room, you see people that have been around the grassroots game for a long time. I am just one part of the machine and the fortunate one who happens to be here tonight. You can’t underestimate the hard work of the team behind this, both family and the people behind the football club.”