Our Grassroots Football Awards Winners of 2022/23

Congratulations to our grassroots heroes!

We’re delighted to announce the winners of the Derbyshire FA Grassroots Football Awards 2022/23.



Club of the Year

Long Eaton United FC

Long Eaton United run a wonderful junior section that has a hugely positive influence on everyone that interacts with the club and the surrounding community. The club run a hugely successful academy & education programme whilst continually investing in their facilities on and off the pitch to enable the best possible experience for every player at their club. The club has a tremendous family orientated feel and is hugely dependant on the outstanding work of so many great volunteers that are the heartbeat and soul of the football club. Long Eaton United are also extremely passionate about the voice of the young person and this came out in their strive for youth engagement when completing their accreditation development plan. Youth forums are regularly held, and ideas implemented throughout the club.



The Lioness Award

Glossop North End Community Club

Glossop North End Community Club has made a significant contribution to the provision of football both competitively and recreationally in a region which previously offered little football opportunities for girls and women. Continuing to be inspired by the Lionesses success, the club is now the hub in the high peak for female participation in the game. The club has grown to 10 competitive teams spanning from under 9 to under 18 (the 18s started this season), Wildcats which is attended by over 30 players every week with an optional pathway into teams and recreational football for 12–14-year-olds with Squad Girls for players who want to try football for the first time or just play more with their mates. We have over 20 players 18+ playing recreational flexi league football in 2 teams in the Manchester Flexi league and over 200 women and girls playing at the club. Last summer, the club organised trips to watch the Lionesses play and hosted a tournament to celebrate the Euros which was attended by over 60 girls. They also hosted the regional finals for girls at Glossopdale and engage with local schools to provide a football pathway for everyone who wants to play from 5 to Just Play Ladies. The club has fully embodied " When more of us play, all of us win" and is inclusive to ensure there is something to suit everyone, including pan disability sessions which are attended by girls . The club also offers opportunities to young players to attend referee courses, help at Wildcats and other sessions and get into coaching as well as administrative roles at the club.



Match Official of the Year

Bob Green

Bob is 80 years old and has been refereeing for over 40 years now. He still runs a line on the local leagues most weekends. Not only this though, but Bob is also the Vice President of the local referee’s society, Erewash Valley. He is there every month welcoming in each and every member, with a smile and a chat for all. He is also a massive supporter of the younger members, encouraging them all into their weekend games. Bob has been involved in football since 1957, and began refereeing in the 1980’s. To date, he has officiated over 1000 games.


Coach of the Year (Male Pathway)

Ryan Parkes (West Hallam Juniors FC)

Ryan has been coaching the team since they were 7 years of age and they are now all turning 16. He was only 15 at the time. He is now a teacher in a secondary school and still gives up hours of his time to not only coach the boys, but also is now the chair of the club overall. He respects the boys and encourages them to be respectful. The boys team are the strongest group of friends. They are all from different schools but all work so well together, they have developed respect, confidence, friendship, they are kind and hardworking boys. Some of the boys have struggled with anxiety and this coach knows what to say and how to encourage when needed. He goes above and beyond. It is very rare you find coaches that arrange trips, (the club have been to play friendlies in Ireland that he has solely arranged). He is amazing at managing and working alongside parents. He wants the best for his team and celebrates their achievements.


Coach of the Year (Female Pathway)

Louise Davies (Ashbourne Aztecs FC)

Louise has volunteered her time around full-time work, visiting local schools enabling girls to play football at lunch time, learn new skills and become passionate about the game. Louise came into a completely male dominated set up and no task was ever impossible. She feels so passionately about giving girls the opportunity to play at the same level as the boys and does everything she can to make them feel as valued and important.


Coach of the Year (Disability Pathway)

Gaz Greenall (Glossop North End Community Club)

Gaz Greenall has been instrumental in delivering pan-disability football within the Glossopdale Community for the last 6 years since its inception. Over 30 players from 8 to Open Age now attend sessions on a Friday night, the only provision of this kind in a wide area. He has taken them to tournaments, has entered a league and taken the players to Manchester City Academy to play games and watch their teams play. The players regularly attend first team games as a group and are very much an equal part of the football community. He has sorted the club kit sponsorship and helps out in all aspects of facilitating "Ability Counts" sessions at Glossop North End Community Club. He does this all voluntarily with little fuss and all the players love what he does. He is a grassroots hero.


New Volunteer of the Year

Sarah Cole (New Tupton Ivanhoe FC)

Sarah joined the club in August 2022 and has gone from a parent to an assistant coach to now having two teams of her own, enabling children to learn the skills of football but also have fun along the way. The amount of time she gives up for the kids and the club is amazing. The kid’s commitment and progress shines week after week. The kids are always smiling and having fun. She has stopped a team from folding so the kids can carry on playing. What makes Sarah stand out even more is the fact she has three children of her own, and she works with SEN children on a daily basis, but then gives up her free time to come and train kids who absolutely adore her.


Young Volunteer of the Year

Olivia Gara (Gresley Rovers Girls FC)

Olivia is currently 21 years old and has been involved in coaching girls’ football for around 5 years. With the help of her father, she decided to set up a new girls-only club in South Derbyshire after thinking that she could do better than what was currently being provided. As lead coach (Level 2 FA qualified), she leads by example by managing one Year 5 team, taking training for around 25 Year 5 girls and also takes training on another night for Year 2 and Year 1 Girls. Olivia is both a role model to all of the girls she coaches, and all of the girls she also comes into contact with. She has overcome a hearing loss in one year, and she has blossomed into a confident, coach who gives up loads of her limited free times to improve the girl’s ability who are often new to football. Through her enthusiasm and dedication, she has helped increase numbers in the football club which is less than 10 months old. Starting with an initial 20 girls, they have now over 100 girls training on a weekly basis and this is growing each week.


Grounds Team of the Year

Duncan Vallance (Cromford & Wirksworth Town FC)

Duncan saw that the club were in difficulties with groundskeeping and started by offering to come and help cut the grass last summer, but that has progressed to 'owning' the pitch preparation and looking to move the situation forward with planned maintenance. He has turned a difficult situation into a much more positive outlook. The club was creaking with the lack of time and bodies but are now looking onwards and upwards with his time commitment, and ownership of decision making. Duncan completely looks at the enjoyment of others through football. Not only the Men’s' First Team, but the Reserves and any Youth or Girls teams wishing to use the facility. He sees the bigger picture for all and is sacrificing his own time in a big way for others.



League of the Year

Derby Junior Football League

Derby Junior Football League currently has 354 teams ranging from U7 - U12 age groups (Boys & Girls) and operates as a Central Venue across 3 different sites within Derby City. The DJFL has a small League Committee comprised of very skilled, experienced, passionate and dedicated individuals. Quite simply without them, the league would struggle to have a such a wide-ranging impact on so many young footballers across Derbyshire. Most recently the DJFL have worked tirelessly in partnership with Derbyshire County FA to implement a number of significant initiatives/projects that required hours of unpaid work from the league committee. The League Committee has a fantastic reputation amongst its membership, key partners and Derbyshire County FA as they always go above and beyond what is required to administer a successful grassroots football league. The DJFL are well established, and they are proactive and progressive in everything that they do. They constantly impress with their attitude to new ideas and implementation of new approaches such as technology which helps to keep the league as current as possible. It’s clear that the development of grassroots football across Derbyshire is at the heart of every decision they make.



Positive Football Environment Award

Nick Rippon-Smith (Long Eaton United FC)

Nick has been at Long Eaton United now for nearly 5 years. In that time, he has grown as a coach from taking his sons the U7’s team to now coaching two U10’s teams, setting up another U10 team as well to enable more children to take part in grassroots football. Nick has wanted for a long time to get involved with the female side of the game and has now started coaching Stanton Girls U11’s as well midweek. His love and passion for the game and more importantly the coaching of children is what makes him worthy of this award. The positive effect that Nick has had not just on the children that he coaches, but also the other coaches that he helps. Coaching at times can be a lonely place with all of the organisation that goes into it; Nick is always there to offer advice to other coaches. The relationship he has with the coaches at Long Eaton and Stanton Ilkeston really makes Nick stand out from the crowd in my eyes. Nick sleeps, eats and breathes grassroots football. He makes sure every child has the right kit, every child at Long Eaton that he coaches has a training kit all of which he makes sure that there is no cost to any of the parents of his players. Always raising money and getting local companies involved in the grassroots game, to then give back to his players that he coaches. As Nick always said, the cost of living has had an effect on us all and no child should be affected by this and stopping them from playing football. Parents pay enough money in subs to then have to pay for additional kit etc. Nick knows that when a child looks good at football, they’ll feel good about themselves as well and become more confident. When it comes to bringing a positive environment to football, Nick has it all.



How were the winners decided?

The winners were decided by a judging panel consisting of two members of Derbyshire FA staff, one member of the Derbyshire FA board and two previous Grassroots Football Award winners.


DCFA Judging Panel

  1. Alexander Walker (Derbyshire FA Football Development Officer)
  2. Thomas Crabtree (Derbyshire FA Marketing & Communications Officer)
  3. Leoni Waghorn (Derbyshire FA Board Member & SIAG Member)
  4. Lee Farthing (Derbyshire FA Mental Health Champion & last year’s winner of the Match Official of the Year Award)
  5. Martyn Milward (Chairman of Mickleover 95 FC and last year’s winner of Spirit of Grassroots Award)


The Judging Panel came together at DCFA HQ and sifted through the nominations, each selecting their winners, before the group definitively decided on the award winners. With so many amazing nominations, deciding a winner for each category was no easy feat!



Derbyshire FA Grassroots Football Awards Evening

 The winners will be invited to our Grassroots Football Awards Evening, where their successes and achievements will be celebrated.