The FA has announced the winners of its 2012-13 Respect and Fair Play Awards, with their most prestigious individual honour being bestowed upon Andy Lowe – Chairman of the Harrow Youth Football League.
From a record number of 470 nominations across the national game, the winners across ten categories were invited as guests of The FA to Wembley Stadium to collect their prizes at The FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Wigan Athletic.
Andy has been named as the recipient of the Bobby Moore Award, which is open to people who have made a significant impact on the game.
Andy Lowe is the driving force behind the Harrow Youth League and the Harrow Soccer 7s Combination. What marks Andy out is not only the size of these leagues which involve 600 teams and 10,000 players in the age range seven to 18 but the way in which the League and clubs have embraced Respect. In the last five years the leagues have experienced growth of 11-13% year-on-year and the positive way in which the leagues operates the Respect programme is frequently cited as the reason that clubs wish to join or remain in the League.
This ethos has only been achieved through Andy’s voluntary commitment of 45–50 hours a week to ensure the close interaction of those that manage the league, its member clubs, managers, players and referees. This results in Andy attending up to eight games every weekend. He does not however shy away from dealing with difficult matters. For example in January this year after reports about the behaviour of the parents of a particular team Andy attended their next match and asked to meet with all parents before the game to reinforce the requirements of the league. Andy’s work is well received by the 250 referees of the League which results in 98% match coverage - a remarkable figure for such a large youth league. Andy’s achievements are also attracting attention elsewhere and he recently hosted a Dutch camera crew keen to take lessons from Middlesex back to the Netherlands.
On learning he had won the prestigious accolade, Andy commented: “I am honoured and humbled to have been nominated for this prestigious award, let alone to have won it. My memory of Bobby Moore is synonymous with Respect and Fair Play and so to be presented with this individual award is even more special. “This award though is really not only for my work in promoting, delivering and developing the Respect programme, but is testament to everyone involved in the Harrow Youth Football League who have worked tirelessly to embrace the Respect agenda in all areas. “There is much work still to be done, but I am confident that we have a sound base in grassroots youth football in Middlesex to ensure that the whole ethos of Respect and Fair Play is here to stay and that we can all enjoy our football in a safe and friendly environment.”
FA Chairman David Bernstein presented the 2012-13 winners with their Respect and Fair Play Awards as part of a special celebratory event before kick-off. He said: “In the 150th anniversary year of The Football Association, it is more important than ever that we highlight those individuals, clubs and leagues which ensure football continues to be a force for good. “It is a fitting tribute that we honour these unsung heroes on the same day that the final of world’s oldest, most famous domestic knock-out competition is contested.”