The countdown is on to the fourth edition of UEFA Grassroots Day, taking place across Europe on 22 May, and its attendant awards, saluting achievements in the grassroots game.
The beauty of football is that it is open to everyone, young and old – and without a healthy grassroots game the elite level that we love to watch can never flourish. On one day in May each year, this affirming thread is celebrated by UEFA Grassroots Day.
Since 2010, UEFA Grassroots Day has been marked by activities taking place throughout Europe. In addition, those whose efforts have helped the grassroots to grow have been recognised with UEFA Grassroots Day Awards, for the best grassroots leaders, projects and clubs.
The fourth UEFA Grassroots Day will be held on 22 May this year, with the focal point of the celebrations being the UEFA Champions Festival in London, just three days before the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley Stadium, and on the eve of the UEFA Women's Champions League final at Stamford Bridge.
In a week when the game's elite and grassroots levels come together, both in England and across Europe, the message that football is fun and, most importantly, open and accessible to all, will ring loudly all over the continent.
A number of activities are planned and will be highlighted as part of a comprehensive web campaign – with the UEFA Grassroots Day microsite as chief information hub. This is a multimedia website featuring videos, photos and games along with a calendar, up-to-date news and in-depth features on the national associations' grassroots activities.
Each European FA has been invited to join the UEFA Grassroots Day festivities and to stage events on, or around, 22 May. UEFA will also be presenting UEFA Grassroots Day Awards saluting exceptional work in the field. The winners will be confirmed by the UEFA Executive Committee at its meeting in March 2013, and all member associations are encouraged to nominate deserving candidates in the following categories:
- Best Grassroots Leader: an individual who has done remarkable voluntary work in grassroots football.
- Best Grassroots Project: an outstanding grassroots football project run by a regional association, agency or school.
- Best Grassroots Club: an amateur club that does amazing grassroots work.
As an extension of UEFA Grassroots Day, maxi-pitches have been donated to the host city of the UEFA Champions League final since 2010, and to the UEFA Europa League final host city since 2011. This year will see London joined by Amsterdam in receiving maxi-pitches. These contribute to the legacy of the finals, while providing a platform for grassroots football in areas in need of quality infrastructure.