Elsa Jones honoured at virtual ceremony with Geoff Hurst and Gareth Southgate
A teenage volunteer at Hanwell Town FC has been honoured at a national awards ceremony.
Elsa Jones was notfied of the award last year but had to wait until this week to be formally presented with the crown of the 2020 Rising Star of the Year at the annual FA & McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards.
Normally, the winners are presented with their awards at a ceremony held at Wembley Stadium before the Community Shield. Although this was not possible for the class of 2020 due to the pandemic, the event was held virtually with Sir Geoff Hurst, Martin Keown, Casey Stoney and England manager Gareth Southgate all taking part.
The judges felt that Elsa deserved the award because she does so much, going above and beyond for her club and local community. She’s the U18s matchday physio but also ran the gate at every home game. Elsa devised an initiative to create a half price season ticket offer which saw attendances shot up by 22% over the course of the season. She’s also helped to raise £2,500 for the charities present at games.
Elsa at training
Away from matchday, Elsa runs Hanwell Town’s various social media accounts which have gained hundreds of followers whilst she’s been in charge. When the season ended abruptly due to the pandemic, Elsa even took the time to pen personalised messages to elderly fans so that they wouldn’t feel lonely during lockdown.
Local McDonald’s franchisee Atul Pathak who is an avid supporter of grassroots football in Ealing, said, “Volunteers who go the extra mile to support those around them have never been more important following the pandemic, and Elsa really is a credit to both her club and community. What she’s achieved at such a young age is hugely impressive. I hope she keeps up the good work as it’s clear to see she has very bright future ahead of her.”
Former Lionesses & Arsenal player Rachel Yankey, who sent a surprise message to Elsa when she was initially told of her award, said, “In what has been a hugely challenging year for the whole country, it feels particularly important to recognise the dedication of volunteers who work tirelessly to have a positive impact on their local communities. It was great to be part of Elsa’s award win. She should be extremely proud of her work and grassroots football in Ealing is in a much better place with her being a part of it.”
Nominations are now open for the 2021 FA & McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards. To nominate a grassroots hero, go to www.mcdonalds.co.uk/awards.
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March 18, 2021