GRFA winners 4 photo grid

National Grassroots Football Award Winners

Nicola Brown and The YEL collected awards at Wembley Stadium

Two winners for Nottinghamshire as part of the 2023 National Grassroots Football Awards. Nicola Brown and The YEL collected their awards at the FA Community Shield Final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

Nicola Brown - Positive Football Environment Award

Nicola has been recognised for her outstanding contribution to grassroots football and is a deserved winner of the Positive Football Environment Award. Passionately championing the need to improve standards and behaviours, Nicola is invaluable to grassroots youth football.

When it comes to improving behaviour, Nicola has a fierce resolve. She has been a volunteer for over 20 years and as Welfare Officer and Discipline/Respect Officer for the Notts Youth League (and Club Welfare Officer for Warsop Athletic and Chesterfield Ladies).

Nicola has created stronger working relationships between the County FA and leagues and clubs to address poor behaviour head on. She always takes the time to explain to secretaries, welfare officers and managers how to improve behaviours.

Nicola has also created a legacy through the Gary Brown Respect Award in honour of her late husband. Which is awarded by the Notts Youth League to the team which best demonstrates exemplary standards of Respect during the season.

Being approachable and knowledgeable about safeguarding, discipline and respect, and by targeting teams with a history of poor behaviour, Nicola has seen their conduct improve. Nicola stands no nonsense, and has had a hugely positive impact on the youth game.


 GRFA National Winners NB


Young Elizabethan League (YEL) - Grassroots League of the Year

One of the largest grassroots youth leagues in England, The YEL thrives by promoting inclusivity. So much so that this year the league decided to bring a fresh new approach to addressing poor behaviour in youth football. 

Behaviour Traffic Lights

Every team starts on the same level (green). If a team (including spectators) is abusive to a referee, the team is put on red. If it reaches the highest level (black) YEL asks its members to decide whether it should be removed from the League 

Simple but successful, it’s had a really positive impact, especially for young referees and the teams placed on red. So much so that other leagues are now adopting the system.

To further improve the matchday environment, YEL helps its clubs pay for coaching courses, referee qualifications and equipment.

Twice a year, the League also holds an awards event where over 1,000 children receive an award from a professional footballer.

Not done there, YEL organises an annual tournament in honour of Samuel Akwasi (13) who tragically died during a YEL game. The League donates all fees from the tournament so Samuel’s club can help more children play football.

By taking children’s wellbeing seriously and constantly promoting best practice, The YEL is a deserving winner.


GRFA National Winners YEL