On Tuesday 3rd October we celebrated our 2022/23 Grassroots Football Award winners as we attended Meadow Lane for Notts County v Swindon Town. We invited our award winners to the game and presented them with their awards.
Our winners enjoyed pre-match hospitality and were then invited to take part in a lap of honour around the pitch at half-time. A big thank you to the supporters of both Notts County and Swindon Town, who gave our winners a fantastic reception as they made their way around the pitch.
The Grassroots Football Awards are our opportunity to celebrate the people and organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to grassroots football in Nottinghamshire. The local football community nominate their grassroots heroes and the nominations are then reviewed, with the winners selected by our judging panel here at Nottinghamshire FA.
Our thanks go to Notts County for hosting us and helping make the evening one to remember for our winners. We also thank those who took the time to make a nomination for the awards. Keep an eye on our website and social media in the New Year for details on nominations for the 2023/24 Grassroots Football Awards.
Our 2022/23 Grassroots Football Award Winners:
Coach of the Year (Male Pathway)
Zander Shayler (Eastwood CFC)
Zander has been involved at Eastwood CFC since he left school and works tirelessly, coaching multiple age groups as well as arranging and running football camps, festivals, and tournaments. His work ethic and devotion to grassroots football is an inspiration as he always leads by example.
Coach of the Year (Female Pathway)
Chris Baker (Arnold Eagles U9s)
Chris is a worthy winner of this award for the work he has done and continues to do with Arnold Eagles. Coach of the U9s for the 2022/23 season, Chris was commended for his dedication and passion in supporting his team to ensure that they all enjoy playing football in a positive environment.
Coach of the Year (Disability Pathway)
David Lee (Calverton MWFC)
David is the Chair of Calverton MWFC, a club with multiple teams at various age groups. He runs and oversees the Pan-disability teams and concentrates on the Club’s Disability Pathway ensuring access to football for all. David was nominated due to his amazing dedication to the Disability Pathway, the coaching he does with the Pan-disability teams and also the work he does to grow and develop the club as a whole.
Club of the Year
FC Cavaliers are a club led by Everton Richards and Martin Hickey. Who both do so much for football in the community here in Nottinghamshire. The club is based in Nottingham City Centre and have provided grassroots football opportunities to thousands of young people over the years. The club has a real community feel and they have worked so hard to ensure that any local children that want to play football, have a safe space to do so. Devastatingly in May 2022, F.C. Cavaliers player, Samuel Akwasi (13 yrs), suffered a Sudden Cardiac Arrest whilst playing in a league game. Whilst every effort was made to keep Samuel alive, he sadly died a short time later in hospital. Since Samuel’s tragic passing, Everton and Martin have campaigned to ensure the Local Authority provide an Automated Electronic Defibrillator (AED) 24/7 at the facility the council hires to clubs. Both Everton and Martin prioritised the welfare and support of their members above their own health and wellbeing. They listened to the voice of their players and planned a memorial tournament with the YEL league to honour both Samuel's life and his love of football. The club arranged for a memorial bench to be placed close to the pitch where Samuel last played - everything the club did, they did in consultation with Samuel's parents.
League of the Year
Young Elizabethan League
The Young Elizabethan League (YEL) is one of the largest grassroots football youth leagues in England. The YEL has worked tirelessly to create an effective Discipline / Respect 'Traffic Light' system to improve the match day environment. Every team starts on the same level and, depending on their behaviour, will move up and down the scale. The league also invests back into clubs by helping clubs to pay for courses and equipment. Twice a year the league holds an award celebration event where over approx. 1000 children receive an award from a professional footballer - whilst the event celebrates football achievements it also promotes the FA Respect values through videos and the promotion of FA training courses.
Match Official of the Year
Josh has received so many compliments as a match official from coaches, players, and parents. He goes above and beyond to ensure that the children he is refereeing learn from him and understand the decisions he makes. Josh ensures that he creates a positive matchday culture whenever he is refereeing and it is evident he is passionate about this and about promoting refereeing in a positive light.
Positive Football Environment Award
Nicola Brown (Notts Youth League)
Nicola has been volunteering within grassroots football across Nottinghamshire for over 20 years. Currently the Welfare Officer and Discipline/Respect Officer for the Notts Youth League, Nicola is passionate about improving standards and wellbeing for all participants and spectators across the grassroots landscape. She always has time to support club/league officials, players and parents and will often go the extra mile to support vulnerable players. Nicola has worked hard to bring the Notts Youth League in sync with their main feeder league, to adopt the same ‘traffic light’ discipline/respect system. Nicola is very supportive to other Youth League welfare officers and is always willing to support County FA/England Football initiatives to improve standards. Nicola has created stronger working relationships between the County FA and leagues/clubs.
New Volunteer of the Year
Natalie Sisson (Priory Celtic)
Natalie has been a shining light since becoming a volunteer at Priory Celtic and was nominated for the impact she has made at the club. A constant positive influence at the club, with her administration and safeguarding support in particular, highlighted as key areas of success. From being a new volunteer at the club, Natalie has already made such a fantastic contribution in grassroots football.
Young Volunteer of the Year
Owen Hardwick (Clipstone FC)
Owen is a volunteer at Clipstone FC and at just 18 years old has already made a significant contribution to the local football community. Owen was nominated by his peers at Clipstone FC due to his enthusiasm to get involved with the club in any capacity needed. From cleaning and pot washing to managing the clubs social media. Always on hand to help with a task and doing so with a smile on his face, Owen is a worthy winner and a role model for all.
Elise Gray (Collingham FC)
Elise is a player for Collingham FC and currently plays in a mixed team. Elise is an amazing advocate for the game and an inspiration to many other girls to get involved in football. Her attitude and determination were highlighted as she was nominated for this award. A worthy winner of the Lioness Award as Elise continues to inspire positive change for women and girls in football.
As part of the FA’s National Grassroots Football Awards, we were delighted that two of our local winners were also selected as National Winners. The YEL and Nicola Brown got to experience an amazing day at Wembley for the Community Shield as they were presented with their national awards. You can read more on this and the other national award winners here.