Essex County FA win “For All” Award

Muslimah Sports Association (MSA) and the Essex County FA have won the London Football Awards’ first ever FA ‘For All’ Award, an accolade created for: “Recognising a project or club that supports inclusion and diversity for under-represented groups in football.”

Cindi Chatha, the County FA’s Disability Football Development Officer, collected the trophy alongside Yashmin Harun from the MSA as part of a prestigious awards ceremony in Battersea on Thursday 28th February. The event featured Premier League and international football stars and raised money for Willow, a charity working with seriously ill young adults.

The award was presented to recognise a project which was put in place, in partnership with London Sport and Vision Redbridge, to understand any perceived barriers to football participation from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) women, and how to overcome these.

The project was nominated as it was one the first which involved a number of organisations to develop an opportunity within football whilst ensuring individuals’ cultural beliefs and values were not compromised. As a direct result of the collaboration, 15 women were supported to complete their FA Level 1 in Coaching Football qualification in Redbridge.

The MSA are a non-profit, voluntary organisation committed to providing opportunities and empowerment through sports, dedicating their time to manage various sessions. They have recently secured a positive partnership with Frenford Clubs in Ilford to develop a female team, who now participate in regular football.

Learners from the FA Level 1 course are coaching football within their schools and others are becoming role models for the next generation. Cindi was full of praise for the collective work between organisations: “Every individual deserves the opportunity to access football in an environment which suits their needs without compromising their identity in any way.”

“We must ensure they have access to all the opportunities we can provide in a safe, fun environment, guaranteeing that their experience is positive. Each organisation showed persistence, determination and perseverance in this project as it took two years from initial conversation to all participants successfully achieving their FA Level 1.”

To find out more about inclusive grassroots football projects in Essex, visit www.essexfa.com, follow @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and search for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.

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