Rewarding the Football Family

Football players of all ages as well as mums and dads will have the opportunity to be recognised in the latest initiative to be announced by Football Federation Australia (FFA) today.

Football players of all ages as well as mums and dads will have the opportunity to be recognised in the latest initiative to be announced by Football Federation Australia (FFA) today.

The new Australian Football Awards recognise players at a professional and non professional level, as well as volunteers, coaches and referees.

“We are delighted to announce the launch of the Australian Football Awards as our gala event for the entire football family,” said FFA CEO Ben Buckley.

“From children playing football for their local club or school through to players representing Australia at the highest international level, the Awards will bring our football family together and emphasise the continuum of football from grassroots to the Westfield Matildas and Qantas Socceroos,” said Buckley.

Qantas Socceroo captain, Lucas Neill and team mate Harry Kewell will be on hand to launch the Awards with Buckley, along with the CEO of the Professional Footballers' Association, Brendan Schwab.

“It is terrific that our football family will have the opportunity to celebrate our great game together," said Lucas Neill.

"I remember the first football match I played for my junior club, Wakehurst Tigers. I still have the same passion and enthusiasm every time I take the pitch."

Buckley said that the Australian Football Awards demonstrate the wide appeal of the code with the variety of awards.

"We see this as an important way of bringing the various strands of the football family together, united in their dedication to the game and for the development of the sport.

"No other sport has the same global appeal or audience reach as football.

"It is also important to acknowledge our volunteers who week-in, week-out make sure junior clubs survive and thrive and who are the backbone of the sport. The Awards is one way of recognising and rewarding their efforts."

Buckley said that an estimated 150,000 'mums and dads' volunteer in some capacity to work in football clubs around the country, with approximately 970,000 Australians of all age groups playing the game either formally or informally.

Neill added that he hoped the awards are an inspiration to young players.

"All of us were junior players one and what we have in common is our passion for this beautiful game," added Neill.

"Dreams do come true if you're prepared to work hard!

"But not everyone can be a professional footballer, or even wants to be. But I hope that every young player who plays the game maintains their interest throughout their life," Neill said.

The Australian Football Awards will comprise professional and non professional awards and will be presented in conjunction with the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) awards at a gala ceremony in Sydney on 11 June.

The professional category includes Footballer of the Year and U20 Footballer of the Year awards for both men and women. These awards will recognise on field excellence and off field professionalism of Australian professional football players. The non professional category includes a team, volunteer, coach and referee award.

The PFA awards will include peer-voted awards for the Player of the Year, and the PFA Harry Kewell Medal for the best young player.

The Australian Football Awards is the newest addition to FFA-s gallery of awards including the Hall of Fame (for outstanding elite players), the Hyundai A-League Awards and Westfield W-League Awards.