Money in football has always been a contentious talking point. But while the modern game is full of high earning professionals, often the true spirit of grassroots football goes unnoticed.
That’s why the Cornwall FA hosts its community awards annually – to celebrate the hard work and effort of unpaid volunteers whose skills range from youth coaching to grounds keeping.
This year, things were done a bit differently. Held at the Alverton Hotel in Truro, and working alongside Falmouth University, each award was presented alongside a short film piece for each nominee, showcasing the work the nominees had done throughout the season.
It was the first time the event had been held in such a way. Cornwall FA’s Richard Pallot said: “The feedback from The FA attendees who travelled from Birmingham and Wembley was especially pleasing as no other county has ever really done what we did.”
“Both said it was the best County awards evening they had been to which was fantastic to hear,” he said.
The first prize of the night went to St Agnes’ Charlotte Collier, picking up the ‘Young Volunteer’ award for her girls coaching work at and outside of the club. She secured the award after being made runner-up last year.
“It’s the kids that make it,” Charlotte told Falmouth University. “Seeing them be inspired by your actions and your roles is really motivating.” She sees herself aiming for America in the future.
One of the most prestigious awards of the night, ‘Coach of the Year,’ was won by St Day’s Martyn Daughtery. His personal achievements include setting up a brand-new goal-keeping academy and travelling to Germany alongside his under 15s side.
As well as individual achievements, the ceremony hailed certain projects aimed at raising the scale of participation within grassroots football in Cornwall. The ‘Best Inclusive Project’ award was picked up by St Agnes FC, whose efforts for women and girls football has hit new heights this past season.
The ceremony also celebrated the work of those who had given much of their lives to the sport they love. Winning ‘Outstanding Services to Cornish Football’ was Peter Thorne, who has spent the best part of 35 years at Wendron FC. Joining him was 91-year-old Dave Walden, who secured the award for long standing ‘Club Administrator’ at Mullion.
The ‘Outstanding Contribution’ award went to the Trelawney Football League’s Steve Carpenter, who said: “Our satisfaction comes from doing the best job we can for those who are out there doing the things we used to do before various injuries took their hold!”
Elsewhere, Gerrans and St Mawes took home the ‘Charter Standard Club’ award and the ‘Development Club’ award went to St Columb Major. There was also a special award for Long Service presented to Ian Anear, whose role in grassroots football has spanned more than 40 years.
To round off the night, RNAS Culdrose made it three total wins in the ‘Charter Standard Community Club’ category, having won the award previously in 2014 and 2016.
Andrew Plenty, who has had a key role at the club over many years, told Falmouth University: “It’s forging those links between the service families and the local families within Helston and the Lizard Peninsula, which is the most important thing for us.”
“The enjoyment part of it and the mass participation is what we’re all about,” he said.
Published in the Sunday Independant, Newquay Voice