Local football clubs Chadderton Park Sports Club and Follo FC attended the 2019 FA & McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards national ceremony at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, to collect their awards after being named Grassroots Club of the Year and Project of the Year, respectively.
The FA & McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards recognise and celebrate the tireless volunteers who dedicate so much time to the grassroots game. The awards are now in their tenth year and Chadderton Park Sports Club and Follo FC join a long list of inspirational grassroots football heroes who marched down Wembley way to collect their coveted awards.
Chadderton Park Sports Club doesn’t just pride itself on inclusivity, the club makes inclusivity define their entire ethos. They hold no trials, welcome players who have been told they aren’t good enough elsewhere and believe fun must come before the desire to win. That explains why they have now grown to over 90 different teams, covering children, seniors, disability squads and cerebral palsy initiatives. Chadderton Park is more than just a football club - it is the heart of its community. With regular charity drives, links to local schools and inherently positive playing environment, it is an incredibly worthy winner of Grassroots Club of the Year.
Follo FC is a unique football club formed by - and for - fathers who have suffered the loss of a child. It is entirely inclusive of all abilities and walks of life but shares a common grief and respect for one another. Follo’s aim is to use football as part of the grieving and healing process, but also to raise awareness of mental health issues. It speaks to people at matches and uses social media to create a platform for other men to get in touch and open up about their loss. Follo FC is a deserved winner of the FA’s Grassroots Project of the Year.
Ahead of the FA Community Shield, supported by McDonald’s, Chadderton Park Sports Club accepted its award from football legend Jack Rutter and Follo FC were presented their award by football legend Martin Keown. During the half time break, Terry Jennings and Craig Simpson from the Chadderton Park Sports Club and Gary Berkley and Louise Band from the Follo FC joined World Cup hero Sir Geoff Hurst on the pitch, in front of nearly 80,000 fans.
“I have been involved with the Grassroots Awards since the beginning and the stories of the winners never fail to impress me. Both Chadderton Park and Follo FC should be extremely proud of their work and grassroots football in Greater Manchester is a much better place with these clubs as a part of it,” said McDonald’s ambassador Sir Geoff Hurst. “The English game is in a very good place at the moment with the Three Lions boasting a number of young and talented players, while the Lionesses have enjoyed a superb World Cup in France. Our national teams simply wouldn’t be in this place without the hard work of our grassroots volunteers – every player has to start somewhere. It was a pleasure to meet both clubs and I hope they continue their extraordinary commitment to football for many years to come.”
Local McDonald’s franchisee Gerald Thompson, who is an avid supporter of grassroots football in Manchester, said: “It’s an honour to recognise both Chadderton Park and Follo FC and the amazing work it does in the community. Chadderton Park provides local people with an inclusive and safe place to play football, regardless of age and ability whilst the work Follo FC does in providing support to local fathers and also raising awareness of mental health through football is very important. I’ve been supporting grassroots football in Manchester for many years, and these stories really highlight the difference clubs can make in the local community.”
Having worked with The FA over the past 17 years, McDonald’s is the longest-standing supporter of grassroots football in the UK. Through this partnership, McDonald’s continues to champion the tireless volunteers who dedicate countless hours to provide enjoyable football to children and young adults regardless of age, gender or disability.
In addition to championing volunteers, McDonald’s has committed to providing over 5 million hours of fun football to 5-11 year olds and giving 500,000 children the chance to play football for the first time by 2022 through Fun Football Centres and other initiatives across the UK.
For further information on how to get involved in McDonald’s Fun Football initiative visit www.mcdonalds.co.uk/funfootball
To find out more about all of the 2019 FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Award winners, visit http://www.thefa.com/get-involved/grassroots-football-awards/winners