The Spirit of Grassroots Football Award: Steve Atkins
We are delighted to announce that Steve Atkins has won The Spirit of Grassroots Football 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.
Steve is the chairman of the Sussex Disability Football League (SDFL), but he is way more than that, he is the spirit of the league. Steve works full-time, running his own business but somehow finds time to think of new initiatives, new ideas, new partnerships, and new fundraising opportunities for the league. If you meet Steve it will only take you that one meeting to realise his passion and spirit to ensure his players are happy and healthy.
In the last year, the SDFL has been unable to play for 14 months due to COVID, however, Steve has made the league thrive during this time despite no football being played. He started the SDFL Podcast as a way of bringing the league, coaches, and players together.
It has been a huge hit, especially to the players. Steve also took on a Mental Health Walk for Mind Charity, he did this to raise awareness of disability football, walking for hours and hours with a smile on his face. Steve furthermore secured a new league ambassador recently in ex-Brighton women's Nina Wilson.
Steve's role as chairman is to chair meetings and ensure the league runs successfully, but he takes this role very seriously and not only attends but also runs each and every match day. He will ensure the players who sometimes struggle have someone to talk to and have opportunities they didn't think possible. Ultimately, he is the heart of the league and continuously strives to make it a better place for people with a disability.
Steve organised for a disability league flag to be made and he then personally delivered the flag to many clubs and players around the county in the hope of getting people to "wave the flag for disability", in the hope of raising awareness again of disability. He also travelled over an hour to deliver a competition prise to one of the players, nothing is too much for Steve, he makes the perfect candidate for The Spirit of Grassroots Football Award.
Steve had this to say upon receiving the award: “You are extremely lucky if your spirit is in grassroots football, but even luckier if the spirit of grassroots football is in you.
“I have an unshakable belief that football improves lives beyond that we even notice. I am proud to be part of a league (SDFL) that strives to bring everyone together to form a community that thrives as one, with the spirit of football at its heart.”
To find out more about The FA and McDonald's Grassroots Football Awards please contact: