The Football Association of Iceland (KSÍ) has acknowledged some of the country's best grassroots achievements over the last year by handing out awards in categories, nominated by UEFA, for most valuable event, best disabled football event and best event for women and girls.
One of Iceland's traditionally biggest tournaments – ÍA fyrir Nordurálsmótid – was honoured with the award of most valuable event. Staged each summer, it involves about 1,300 boys aged between seven and 10. The women and girls event accolade went to KS fyrir Pæjumót TM, a competition for girls aged eight to 14 which was recently held for the 20th time, while the disabled event prize belonged to FH Hafnarfjördur for organising and hosting a Special Olympics tournament.
"Awards like these are very important for our clubs and their work," KSÍ grassroots manager Guðlaugur Gunnarsson told UEFA.com. "Getting the UEFA seal of approval is very important and helps the clubs sell their projects within their own organisation. All the work in these projects is done by volunteers from the clubs, so to receive an award is really affirming."
There were also special prizes for local organiser Ýr Sigurðardóttir and the Knattspyrnudeild Fylkis club for their work in promoting equality. Sigurðardóttir is the driving force behind the Football for All scheme which, since 2010, has helped children with special needs who are unable to train with their age group, enjoy playing football on their own terms.
Knattspyrnudeild Fylkis, meanwhile, have established a Sport Club programme for 14 to 16-year-old boys and girls with free participation. The youngsters meet and play football two or three times a week. The initiative has run for three years with great success.
Football at grassroots level is a priority of the KSÍ, with the association having four-star status in the UEFA Grassroots Charter. "Our clubs are all very engaged in grassroots football," said Gunnarsson. "There are many tournaments, great and small, organised by our clubs that are solely focused on the grassroots. These schemes have also broadened the clubs' horizions, meaning projects like football for the disabled, children with special needs and so on, are becoming much more of a priority for clubs."
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