Athletic Club wins UEFA award for best professional club in grassroots football

Athletic Club wins UEFA award for best professional club in grassroots football

Lezama receives UEFA Grassroots Awards prize just after half a century of life and with the Aterpe Project as a European benchmark

UEFA has announced Athletic Club as the winner of the 2021/22 Best European Professional Club at the UEFA Grassroots Football Awards, an honour which has been presented to clubs since 2010.

Athletic receives this recognition at a very significant moment, with Lezama celebrating 50 years of existence in January 2021. Futhermore, our pioneering Aterpe Child Protection Programme was singled out as one of the strong points that led the entity presided over by Alexander Ceferin to distinguish our club.

Athletic won the award due to “its inclusive agenda and specific social objectives that demonstrate commitment to its role in society, the local community and the grassroots game”. In the assessment, the enormous work that Lezama carries out with young players and affiliated clubs in the region has been taken into account.

Athletic Club succeeds Germany’s Werder Bremen as the award’s incumbent, while Aberdeen from Scotland and HJK Helsinki from Finland have also been the previous winners. What’s more, a club belonging to the Royal Spanish Football Federation has never won, making Athletic the RFEF’s first “gold” at the UEFA Grassroots Awards.

It is an award that applauds clubs and initiatives that “provide safe and enjoyable places for everyone to enjoy the game, regardless of age, ability, gender or background”. Two of the five awards in the different categories were revealed on Monday. The others are for the best amateur Club, the best participation initiative, the best disability initiative and the best social initiative.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said: “Selecting the winners of the UEFA Grassroots Awards is an enjoyable and inspiring task. It highlights the impressive, inclusive and remarkable projects of national associations and clubs across the continent, whose influence extends far beyond sport.”