Volunteer of the Year: Claire Bennett
We are delighted to announce that Claire Bennett has won our Grassroots Volunteer of the Year Award as part of The FA and McDonald's Grassroots Football Awards.
The awards aim to recognise and reward volunteers, match officials, clubs and leagues across the county who have made a difference to grassroots football in their local community.
After starting as a volunteer coach for Seaford Town FC Inclusive/Disability Team, Claire oversaw the growth of the club to three teams who took part in the Sussex Disability Football League.
Now, Claire coaches 27 teenage girls at Seaford Town, but she wasn’t about to stop there. Claire wanted "older women" to also have an opportunity to play, so she set up two women's veteran teams, ‘Seaford Vets’ and ‘Newhaven Vets’. She now has 60 ladies aged 30-60 playing every single week, enjoying the spirit that comes with being part of a team.
Because of Claire, so many individuals of all different ages, gender and ability have had the opportunity to play football. She has given these women something that they didn’t know was missing in their lives. They now laugh, they enjoy exercise, they feel good and they have improved at football and this is all down to Claire.
She was originally a "side-line" football mum, now she is a confident FA Level 1 Football Coach, a player, a supporter, a fundraiser, and a positive figure in her community. Claire is now a role model to her 5 children, who can now see that anything is possible.
Claire will do absolutely anything for her players, to make them feel comfortable and supported. She also organised a charity calendar where the women posed elegantly with Football gear covering them, all in the aid of raising money for a local mental health charity and with the aim of building up the body conscious women on her team.
Furthermore, she now blogs about her experience so that other women can be inspired to take up football for the first time, no matter their age. Claire has secured funding with companies that can support her players, such as a physio company called "Positive Touch Therapy" who help the women who are not used to exercising and a local café where the women can go to socialise.
Claire makes this team so much more than just about football, these women finally have the opportunity to play a game they never thought possible, while getting fit, making friends and most importantly, upping confidence.
To find out more about The FA and McDonald's Grassroots Football Awards please contact: