Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) honoured the advocates of grassroots football and the Woman Youth Coach of the Year for their contributions to the sport at the AFC Special Grassroots and Elite Women’s Youth Football Awards 2019, which was held in conjunction with the 2nd AFC Women’s Football Conference in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
Japan’s Eiichiro Matsuki received the Best Grassroots Leader award while Paro FC from Bhutan and ISF Football Programme were conferred the Best Grassroots Club and Best Grassroots Project accolades respectively.
Meanwhile, full-time teacher Chan Shuk Chi of Hong Kong, who is an AFC-KFA Pro-Diploma license coach and current Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) U12 Girls’ team head coach, was named the Youth Coach of the Year (Female) in the award ceremony.
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The prestigious awards honoured the game’s unsung heroes who dedicate their time and resources towards spreading the joy of football, as part of the AFC’s continued commitment and mission to promote the sport at the grassroots level.
Matsuki (pictured above, right), who has been involved in grassroots football since 1977, received the award for his work in grassroots activities which include nurturing the turfs in kindergartens, elementary schools and parks through the support of the JFA Green Project.
Singapore’s Lim Chong Sing, a volunteer since 1986 in grassroots projects, was also recognised in the Best Grassroots Leader Category.
Matsuki said: “I’m proud to receive this award but my involvement in grassroots football is from pure passion. A big thank you to the AFC and JFA for their strong support and vision to continue promoting football at the grassroots level. It is important that the sport reaches different communities across Asia.”
In the Best Grassroots Club category, Paro FC clinched the award followed by Foshan Westin FC of China PR.
While Paro FC is focused on youth through its ‘Catch Them Young’ and ‘Keep Them Moving’ initiatives, they have also reached out to other communities in Bhutan by organising football programmes for monks, the disabled and parents.
President of Paro FC, Karma Jigme (pictured above, right) said: “At Paro FC, we believe that football is for everyone and it is our goal to ensure that people from different cultures and backgrounds have the opportunity to play the sport. Football is a tool for social change, and we will continue to reach out to more people in our grassroots activities.”
Through various projects in Cambodia, the ISF Football Programme has reached 3,500 children and youth of all abilities including hearing, blind and visually impaired players, wheelchair bound and HIV positive players.
ISF Football Programme was delighted to receive the award while the Street Soccer Hong Kong was also commended.
Country Manager of ISF Football Programme, Vicheka Chourp (pictured above, left), said: “Football can empower communities regardless of their abilities. Our projects target different groups and we can use the sport as a tool for character building and to instill lifelong values. We are honoured to receive this award as it is a result of all the hard work which we have put in.”
For her dedication in coaching the youth, Hong Kong’s Chan Shuk Chi (pictured above, left) was announced as the Women Youth Coach of the Year just ahead of Vietnam’s Phung Thi Minh Nguyet.
Chan has been the coach of the Citizen women’s team since 2012 and guided her charges to the League and Cup champions in 2019. Through her coaching, the club has also seen more young players breaking through the ranks into the senior team.
Chan said: “I would like to thank the AFC for this award. I take great pride in my work and I’m glad to have the support from the HKFA and Citizen AA who have given the girls more opportunities to participate and compete. The sport is becoming more popular among young girls and I’m glad to play my part to help grow the game and influence more women to play the sport.”
The complete list of the award recipients is listed below:
Best Grassroots Leader 2019:
Winner: Eiichiro Matsuki (Japan)
Runner-up: Lim Chock Sing (Singapore)
Special Merit: Lu Kuei-hua (Chinese Taipei), Hj Omar Hj Jamil (Brunei Darussalam), Alex Chang (Hong Kong) and Intikhab Alam (India)
Best Grassroots Club 2019:
Winner: Paro FC (Bhutan)
Runner-up: Foshan Westin FC (China PR)
Special Merit: Soccer Ace FC (Malaysia), FC Ton (Japan) and Kuwait SC (Kuwait)
Best Grassroots Project 2019:
Winner: ISF Football Programme (Cambodia)
Runner-up: Street Soccer Hong Kong
Special Merit: Free Football Clinic for Youth Level (Thailand), Persian League (IR Iran), DUO League (Japan), Grassroots Development Programme by NOFA (Philippines), Blue Sky Football Academy (Vietnam)
Youth Coach of The Year (Woman):
Winner: Hong Kong, Chan Shuk Chi (Head Coach, HKFA U12 Girls' Rep Team/Citizen Women's & Youth Team)
Runner-up: Vietnam, Phung Thi Minh Nguyet (Head Coach U19 Hanoi FC)
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