Following on from our FA Respect Award win, AFC Unity are now in line for another national award next week at a ceremony in the Houses of Parliament.
We are one of three finalists that will travel to Westminster on Wednesday, October 12th, in with a chance of being named Sport England’s Satellite Club of the Year, having already taken the regional award for Yorkshire earlier this summer – the first ever South Yorkshire recipients.
South Yorkshire Sport awarded Satellite Club funding to AFC Unity that enabled us to establish our innovative Solidarity Soccer initiative, amongst other training, at Hillsborough College, and has since expanded to Concord Sports Centre with more sessions popping up across the city of Sheffield. AFC Unity have engaged over a hundred women with this approach, with several progression routes and the unenviable task of moving forward with the establishment of not one but two 11-a-side teams to meet demand.
Satellite clubs are extensions of community sports clubs, which use different venues such as a secondary schools or colleges to offer a range of sports to young people who may not be regularly active, or lack the confidence to join a sports club.
The award recognises the efforts of AFC Unity not just for these on-the-pitch initiatives but for campaigns such as Football for Food, which has raised 781kg of food for local food banks.
‘It’s a great honour to receive this award and represent Yorkshire,’ commented Jay Baker, Co-Founder and Manager of AFC Unity. ‘The Yorkshire Sport Foundation and South Yorkshire Sport have been by far the most supportive organisation for us since day one and without whom AFC Unity would not exist or carry out any of its community activities or get women involved to the extent we have. To be recognised in this way means a lot to us and we are excited to represent South Yorkshire in the country’s capital!’
‘It’s great to receive recognition for providing so many different options for women to get involved in football via AFC Unity,’ said Co-Founder and first team captain Jane Watkinson. ‘We’ve engaged high levels of participation because we’ve given opportunities for women regardless of their experience, age, ability, or background – there’s an option for every one to get involved.’
Nigel Harrison, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Sport Foundation who run South Yorkshire Sport, added: ‘To be one of the top three projects in the country is a great testament to the work all at AFC Unity have done to get more women playing football. We congratulate them for that and hope they bring first prize back to Yorkshire.’