Merthyr Town FC have been recognised and rewarded at the very highest level for their outstanding contribution to their local community with the announcement that they have won the gold award for the Best Grassroots Club in the 2015 UEFA Grassroots Awards.
'Football can play an important role in the promotion of positive messages and the tackling of social issues and those are both impressive features of the Best Grassroots Club winner at Merthyr Town FC,' said UEFA President Michel Platini following the announcement. 'The club has enabled a variety of target groups to enjoy football by taking part in the sport and this ensures there is a positive future ahead for those involved.'
The 2015 awards were announced as part of UEFA Grassroots Week, which has been aligned for the first time with the European Commission's Week of Sport. 'We really believe that Merthyr epitomise everything that we are trying to achieve through our grassroots programme,' said Jamie Clewer, head of growth at the Welsh Football Trust. 'There's a real diversity to everything that they offer. We're really pleased that it has been recognised.'
Merthyr Town FC have been celebrated by UEFA as a club that embodies the very essence of sport and community spirit, embracing coach education, fun football and small-sided games, while facilitating the sport for a wide target group. With the pitch always in use, the club is able to use football as a means of tackling social issues at the heart of the town.
'With Merthyr Town, I think what sets us apart is we're looking to be a club for everyone, not just for the elite, not just for the kids at the academy, not just for the fans, but for everyone of all ages, gender, ability, disability ... that's what makes it special,' said Elliott Evans, the community development officer at Merthyr Town FC. 'To be awarded the UEFA grassroots award, it's a massive achievement for us and it's a privilege to be part of it. For the community project there's no doubt that it's our proudest moment yet.'
'Since the introduction of the pitch the academy has trebled, quadrupled maybe with the usage there,' explained a proud Meurig Price, chairman of Merthyr Town FC. 'The fun camps with the schools during the holidays, the ladies team, the disability team, the walking football team - I don't think there's any group of people that have been left out.'