Sheffield FA recognises grassroots heroes

There would be no grassroots football without the tremendous work that volunteers do year in, year out.

They are the beating heart of the footballing community who give their time, effort and energy to make a positive impact on the game. 

As a way of thanking them for their dedication, the Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA hosted their annual Grassroots Football Awards at Hillsborough Stadium in October hosted by BBC Radio Sheffield’s Andy Giddings.

The county FA received over 160 nominations, so it was extremely tough for the independent panel to judge. This year, as well as a winner in each of the 12 categories, there was a highly commended prize.

The Lioness Award – Gail Fletcher, Silver Strikers

Gail founded Rotherham-based women’s recreational football team, Silver Strikers, from scratch with no funding. Today, there is a team of over 30 women of mixed ages and abilities, most of whom have never played football before or have returned to the game after many years away.

Highly Commended: Megan Wylde, Millmoor Juniors

Club of the Year – Kiveton Park FC

Kiveton Park FC are the beating heart of their community. They ensure all teams and players are treated equally and encourage players to progress from youth teams to adult teams. This year that became a reality for both the men’s and women’s teams, providing additional positive role models for others within the club.

Highly Commended: Darnall Diamonds

Grounds Team of the Year – Malcolm Geal, Scissett FC

Dubbed the ‘grass whisperer’ by everyone at the club, Malcolm has turned his club’s pitch from ‘The Deep’ to a field of dreams in just three years without any formal training or experience in grounds management. 

Highly Commended: Will Burden, Wickersley Youth JFC

Coach of the Year Male Pathway – David Johnson, Tinsley JFC

David consistently prioritises player development and recognises the unique needs of each individual, regardless of their gender, race, or faith. During Ramadan, he collaborated with parents of fasting players to ensure inclusivity within the team.

Highly Commended: Steven Beckitt, Swinton Spartans

Coach of the Year Female Pathway – John Bridgman, Hallam Rangers U12 Girls

John’s team welcomes girls of all abilities, including many who have never played football before. He provides every girl with equal playing time and works diligently to develop every player.

Highly Commended: Holly Emery, Sprotbrough and Cusworth Crusaders

Coach of the Year Disability Pathway – Nathan Pearson, Derek Dooley Football Academy

Nathan has shown that you can, with perseverance, grow in confidence to become a major part of a club and the community. He takes on board the different needs of everyone he coaches and has great rapport with all the players, who see him as a great role model to what they can achieve for themselves.

Match Official of the Year – Vance Warner

Former professional footballer Vance is a true inspiration to all. Nobody has ever had a bad word to say about him and respect levels when he is on the field of play are always at the highest.

Highly Commended: Jake Rhodes, Beighton Magpies U13 Blue

Young Volunteer of the Year – Jack Johnson, Elite Football Academy

Jack demonstrates everything that Elite FC stands for. He is respectful, confident, thoughtful and interested in the wellbeing and development of others. He not only represents the club as a player, but he is also a coach, ambassador, and leader.

Highly Commended: Ryan Elliott, Rossington Main FC

New Volunteer of the Year – Helen Knight, Barnsley & District Schools FA

(collected by Steve Gates)

Thanks to Helen, the Barnsley & District School FA is now a sustainable district football association, with clear financial planning that has brought equity and parity for girls’ football. She has been committed to her role while holding down a full-time job as a carer.

Highly Commended: Daniel Goddard, Dearne & District FC

Positive Football Environment Award – Mike Stylianou, South Yorkshire Ability Counts League

Mike is a fantastic ambassador for footballers with disabilities. He is popular and highly regarded by everyone and provides the best possible footballing experience for all.

Highly Commended: Jan Milner, Doncaster Retro Rovers Walking Football Club

League of the Year – South Yorkshire Ability Counts League

The league has made a significant positive impact on disability footballers. It consists of 14 clubs, 54 teams and over 600 players. Through this league, football has brought immense joy to disadvantaged disabled players of all ages.

Highly Commended: Doncaster & District Junior Sunday League

The Geldart Award – Steven Beckitt, Swinton Spartans

This special award was presented to the family of Steven ‘Mini’ Beckett who passed away from cancer earlier this year.

Even during his illness, remained committed to junior football and would watch games via FaceTime and plan training sessions. He taught his young players that, even during the hardest times of your life, you can still give your love, time, and effort to making other people’s lives better.

He truly was a grassroots hero.