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Some of the most notable achievements in grassroots football have been recognised in the 2011 UEFA Grassroots Day Awards, which were announced at a meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee in Nyon.
Decided at the committee's third meeting of the year last week, the announcement followed the second annual UEFA Grassroots Day, which was staged in the week of the UEFA Champions League final on 25 May. Activities celebrating the lifeblood of the game were held all over Europe, with London's Hyde Park being the main focus with a special programme devoted to the day as part of the UEFA Champions Festival.
As with the inaugural awards last year, the best grassroots leaders, projects and clubs gained recognition on the honours list. Hämeenlinnan Jalkapalloseura from Finland, a club that has built good links with local schools and has an excellent environment for its 1,000 players, was named as the winner of the club prize, with English community club Curley Park Rangers FC and Flevo Boys of the Netherlands also receiving significant mentions.
In the best grassroots project category, Schleswig-Holstein from Germany was awarded the top accolade. A comprehensive regional associations development programme that promotes fair play and opposes violence and xenophobia, it was named the winner ahead of Ukrainian children's festival for disadvantaged children, Kolos, and Serbia's mini-maxi leagues programme.
Meanwhile, John de Looze of the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) was acclaimed as best grassroots leader. A volunteer for 32 years, he is actively involved in organising summer camps and disability courses on top of a role as president and organiser for an amateur club in the Netherlands for the last 20 years. Also recognised in this category were Danilo Lukner, for his time with the children's football programme at ONŠ Ljubljana in Slovenia, and Heinz Maintok for his work of 20 years with asylum seekers at small German team SV Blau-Weiss Sedlitz 90.
"The aim of UEFA Grassroots Day is to celebrate and recognise grassroots football, and the aim of the UEFA Grassroots Awards is an extension of that," said UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh. "It is to celebrate and recognise individuals who have devoted themselves in a volunteer capacity to grassroots football projects which have been involved with large numbers of young people or which have a social impact, and with clubs who are at the foundation of football and provide comprehensive football opportunities."
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