Berkhamsted Raiders named as Europe’s football pioneers

Berkhamsted Raiders UEFA presentation Oct 2015
Berkhamsted Raiders UEFA presentation Oct 2015

Move over Manchester United, get out of the way Chelsea - there’s a new English football side at the top of European football.

But this time it’s not about international stars and eight-figure salaries - Berkhamsted Raiders have won the UEFA Grassroots Silver Award for their work across the local community.

And a delegation from the club travelled to Wembley for Friday’s England game against Estonia to collect the trophy.

Club chairman Keith Pollard said: “This comes after getting the national club of the year award last year. Unbeknown to us the Football Association then nominated us for the European award too.

“So many people deserve the credit for this - it’s the result of endless volunteer hours, and we’re all pretty chuffed.”

The UEFA Grassroots Silver Award is contested by clubs across the continent, making Raiders the second-best community club in Europe.

But that will be no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the Raiders’ work. The club has more than 800 affiliated players, including 90 girls and 691 boys in the youth set-up, 29 ladies, 20 seniors and 20 veterans.

They are spread across 65 teams at different levels - compared to 13 sides ten years ago.

The club has countless volunteers filling roles as managers, qualified parent-coaches, age group co-ordinators, match day delegates, committee members and trustees, and even youngsters on the youth committee.

And Raiders go out into the community too, such as with the inclusive sessions for disabled players which run for 29 weeks of the year, by hosting an annual festival at BerkoAstro alongside Herts Football Association and Watford FC, and by both coaching and funding facilities at local schools.