FA Grassroots Football Awards Winners

The FA and McDonald's Grassroots Football Awards

Lancashire FA is delighted to announce the winners of the 2021 awards.

The FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards are for people who make a positive difference. It’s our way to celebrate the fantastic individuals who put their heart and soul into the grassroots game across England – and say a huge thank you to the incredible volunteers who inspire us all.

This season our grassroots volunteers have adapted to the ever-changing Coronavirus pandemic. They responded quickly to make football happen when they could. And when they couldn’t play they kept players, volunteers and the wider community connected off the pitch.

We're going to be announcing the following awards throughout the week:

Coach of the Year for adults - Lewis Shaw
Coach of the Year for youth - Paul Morris
Club of the Year - Euxton Girls Football Club
Project of the Year - Creative Football 
Rising Star of the Year - Oliver Parr
Match official of the Year - Joseph Collier
League of the Year - Blackpool and District Youth League
Grounds Team of the Year - Doug Gornall
Volunteer of the Year - Karen Phoenix
The Spirit of Grassroots Football Award - Iain Massingham

*Please note that the below write-ups are those of the nominator and not Lancashire Football Association


Lewis Shaw - 2021 Coach of the Year (Adults)

Lewis Shaw is brilliant. Not only does he run U11s boys, AFC ladies yellow, boys development but he also a coaches for the England amputee football association. 

He gives up countless hours to help individuals become the best they can be. Dedication doesn’t have an off-season with Lewis. He puts in 1000% every day; not only does he better these individuals on the pitch, he gives them so much confidence in the real world too. Hours upon hours he gives up his own spare time to help everyone around him, and everything thing he does he doesn’t ask for anything in return. He is amazing!!! 

Lewis has made such an impact on not only my football career but also my own life. He’s given up so many hours doing trainings and 1-1 sessions. He’s always there when you need him and will make sure you’re ok. He coaches the England amputee squad, he’s bettering those adults on the pitch and off. He spends weekends away helping the amputees and it is amazing. I’ve never met someone has dedicated and selfless as lewis Shaw. 

He has made such an impact on my life and I’m so pleased to have him as my coach, he truly has given me the confidence I’ve always wanted. Lewis stands out for me because he is positive, enthusiastic, supportive, trusting, focused, knowledgeable, observant, respectful, patient and a clear communicator. It’s great to see he’s coaching such a variety of players , he can cater for them all. From 11 year old boys, to 18-50 women and 14-30 amputee men. He stands out from the rest because he’s unique with his coaching, he truly gets his players and he never backs down from a challenge. I recommend Lewis to all my friends who want to play football. No one else I’d choose.

Paul Morris - 2021 Coach of the Year for (Youth)

Paul is the U7s & U11s manager. He doesn't have a child in either team but dedicates two nights during the week and both weekend mornings to coach/manage other children. Paul isn't interesting in winning games or having the best players, he just wants to see players improving and enjoying the game. 

I received a message from an U7s parent after yesterday’s fixture, it read: "Thanks for today Paul, it’s so nice to watch them playing so well together and really having a good time. Thomas is on top of the world. Thanks for all the time that you, Leigh & Jordan put in. You really are making a difference to their lives." 

Our Club finishes at U16s and when Paul’s son reached this age six years ago Paul took on the current U11s as he wanted to continue developing young players and making them the best they can be. Paul isn't interested in trophies or league positions, just player development. Paul has given his time freely for 15 years, helping and developing players in the Chorley area.

Grounds Team of the Year- Doug Gornall (Penwortham Town)

Firstly Doug works full time, is a committee member and manages the U16s so does an awful lot before grounds work. The time dedicated on top of that to the pitches has been phenomenal, both preparing pitches, enhancing pitch side environment and studying with the ground management association to try and learn more about ground maintenance to make the club more sustainable in future.

The pitches and environment have significantly improved. Doug has line marked pitches (and there are a few to cover 20 teams), built new benches for the dugouts, painted the dugouts, fitted new barrier rope around the 1st pitch, painted posts around pitch, hand made a new bridge for over a drainage ditch to make that safe and co-ordinated volunteers to uplift the changing areas. Doug also does weekly litter picks (though not many people would know this) so keeps the environment safe, almost daily checks the sites and gets there very early on weekends to assess pitches for games.

This person stands out for their get up and go and the incredible amount of dedication to grassroots football. Doug takes on a huge amount that would likely need 3 or 4 volunteers were he not to be at the club. He never seeks any recognition for any of it and it’s a shame that actually a lot goes un-noticed as the players turn up to a fantastic playing environment and don’t see what is done to create it.

Club of the Year - Euxton Girls Football Club

The club is an all-inclusive, girls-only club that supports and develops girls of all ages and abilities to take part in football. They are constantly thinking of ways to develop the girls and increase their enjoyment and knowledge of football. They are a stand along girls club which started in 2002 with 1 team and had now grown to one of the biggest girls clubs in the area. They now have 260 girls signed up and have teams ranging from wildcats to the newly formed open age team. At some age groups, they have 2 or 3 teams. There are no trials to join the club and everyone is welcome to join and take part. The club had worked hard to provide different things for the girls including a summer school and tournaments for local schools, both primary and secondary to enable more girls to have exposure to football and the opportunity to play. They have arranged for the girls to attend England games. The coaches work hard to make the sessions fun and informative and our understanding 13’s were recently crowned county cup winners.

During lockdown, the club had worked hard to keep the girls involved and connected. They gave used money that had not been spent on normal expenses to support local charities such as the local food bank. Our club secretary had been amazing and has arranged different video calls with professional players, coaches, and other role models within the football community to answer the girl's questions and provide advice on the game.

Rising Star of the Year - Oliver Parr

Oliver took this mission upon himself to help others less fortunate. He heard the story of children that didn’t have the equipment they needed to play the game he loves and in lockdown set his mind to helping others. He worked & worked to make sure he raised as much as he could for the campaign, by collecting the items washing them sorting them and packing them for shipment. Oliver has made a huge difference to lots of boys & girls in Gambia Africa who didn’t even have socks never mind shoes, he has been sent pictures of all the children wearing football boots trainers clothes match kits etc that he collected cleaned sorted and boxed for shipment .

In lockdown Oliver age 7 heard of children who didn’t have the equipment they needed to play the game he loves so much and this made him sad he wanted to make a difference for children less fortunate than himself. He loves his grassroots football and wanted to help others also have the equipment to enjoy the game as much as he does so he made it his mission to campaign and get donations in, a month of hard work campaign, etc and he gained over 110 pairs of football boots more than 200 items of kit including match kits, rain jackets, hoodies, socks, etc and also goalkeeper gloves and more.

The whole shipment then got sent to Gambia Africa where children less fortunate gained these items. Oliver was so happy and proud when he saw photos of all the young boys so happy to finally have boots to play the game they all love.

Volunteer of the Year- Karen Phoenix

Karen Phoenix passed away in April 2021 following a long battle with Cancer. Karen has been involved in grassroots football for over 25 years and I have known her for 20 of those years.Karen volunteered with the Central Lancs Junior Football League and Mid Lancs Colts Junior Football League. She was always friendly and approachable and joked with everyone who attended the Central Venue in Preston. I never crossed Karen, but if you did cross her, you knew about it, but any issues were always sorted and forgotten about and there was never any animosity.

Karen was a fun and friendly character and was much loved by the league, the clubs, coaches, players, parents/carers and the referees that she used to manage and support as the League's Referee Secretary. Every referee felt supported and encouraged by Karen. Karen has made a huge contribution to the league, clubs and grassroots football in the North West and she has left a lasting impression on hundreds, if not thousands of people in the game she loved. She dedicated many hours to ensure that hundreds of children and young people could play football each weekend.

Spirit of Grassroots Award - Iain Massingham
Iain is Manager and a Coach of AFC Masters. He set up the Club in 2005, partly as he identified that there was a lack of accessible sports provision in the Borough for children and adults with disabilities.

He also loves playing and watching football but as he has cerebral palsy, his own opportunities were very limited. What started as three people having a kickabout on a Wednesday afternoon has now grown into a 100-strong club. We run three sessions on two days a week and a further session on a third day. The club regularly plays competitive fixtures and is affiliated to the Lancs FA. The Club welcomes players from the age of five, to over 50! Getting active is really important and can be even more so when you have a disability, as there aren’t as many options out there for you. But it’s not just about moving more, AFC Masters is more than that. We’re about friendship, making connections in the community, To compensate for the absence of football, Iain and some of the volunteers have utilised social media to ensure the communal, interactive side of the club continues. It’s been really fun coming up with weekly online meet-ups and different virtual events.

Iain is a truly inspirational and empathetic leader of the Club. The past year has been a big one for him personally, having got married in Nov 2019 and just returned from his honeymoon as the pandemic bit deep, he and his wife had a son in Jan 2021. Obviously devoted to his new wife and baby, he retains a true and deep affection for all our members and never says no to a member or family needing his time or help. But his ambition is wider than just our Club and he wants to see football for people with a disability be one of the means to improve the lot of this section of our society. It’s been hard to be apart and we can’t wait to get back together and kick a ball around, however being part of a flourishing online family brings its own joys. We see our members making friendships they might not have done when just coming to the club, we’ve got players starting their own independent online games groups and we have provided a space for people who, for various reasons might not be able to take part in our football sessions.

We’ll meet again for football, but until then our friendships are flourishing and we’re most definitely having a lot of fun.

Project of the Year - Creative Football

Creative Football provides social football opportunities for the community with an emphasis on helping people experiencing poor mental health.

They support people using football as that hook to engage and connect instead of more formal mental health support structures. They do this by connecting the community, providing opportunities for people to talk to each other, make friends, avoid being on their own. They do this by a true people-centered approach and see the before and after time in football just as important and the playing time. They have created a supportive football community!

Over the last 12 months they have worked tirelessly helping vulnerable people who have been really affected by Covid across Blackburn with Darwen. They have supported positive mental health by: regular contact with people throughout lockdown regular visits to people to see how they are getting on Provided online connections through quiz's, challenges and virtual get-togethers Provided 1 to 1 football therapy support Offered additional ways to connect on a 1 to 1 - walk and chat, bike and chat Built connections with other services, housing associations, drug and addiction recovery groups etc. Creative Football is for everyone, it does have a key focus on mental health but they recognise that everyone needs mental health support in one way or another and the Creative Football environment can support whatever people's needs are. They may be as simple as just connecting with others, taking part in physical activity through to needing someone to talk to, or signposted to other support. This is all done in such a supportive and informal way. The reason people come is for the football but people gain so much more! It is just so great to see Creative Football sessions back up and running and seeing such a diverse range of people and abilities playing and connecting with each other.

Creative Football work so hard on embedding the right ethos within every single person, it is a testament to everyone involved from players to volunteers to coaches and support workers, everyone one of them is Creative Football and makes it how incredible it is!

Match Official of the Year - Joseph Collier

The first time Joe refereed us we were immediately impressed. It started before that. His initial communication was brilliant ensuring everything was ok. On the day he arrived and immediately started talking to us and showed a genuine interest in how we are doing. During the game, he wanted to help the players particularly with taking a correct throw-in. He gave them one chance to correct the foul throw giving advice throughout the game. His communication with us during the game was on point. After the game, he took the time to tell us how impressed he was with the players and how they played.

By waiting around until after the team debrief at the end of a match to speak to us and show genuine interest meant everything to us. I can’t stop thinking about how a young man would think about doing that. Especially after our first game back after lockdown 3! It must have been an emotional day for him and he was simply selfless and thinking about the players first. Incredible! We’ve had many referees and some good ones. But Joe demonstrated some genuine personal qualities that day! I would like to see him progress in a refereeing career if that’s what he wants to do. He was able to communicate with 10-11 year old children and then adults. Just simply brilliant for a young person to have those qualities and confidence.

League of the Year - Blackpool and District Youth League

The BDYL has for many years provided opportunities for kids playing football. Their no-nonsense, non-political and ‘we’re here for you’ attitude is reassuring for our club and many others on the Fylde Coast which has a number of other leagues.

The BDYL represents all member clubs, they are here to serve and provide what member clubs request and they do that collaboratively and within the required FA regulations. They actively listen and are open to change. They attend all LFA league meetings and share information impartially and without opinion allowing clubs to digest and decide themselves, which they support based on a majority decision. One word sums them up: Integrity!