Glendale’s sports development officer has been honoured by the Football Association for his contribution to grassroots sport at a glittering awards ceremony held at Wembley Stadium.
Paul Harper from Lewisham was named Coach of the Year at the tenth annual London Football Association Awards, for what the FA described as his ‘sterling’ work coaching the Lewisham Primary School League.
As part of his role as sports development officer for Glendale, Paul organises and runs the league of 65 teams from 30 primary schools across the borough.
He also put together a squad of 12 players which was chosen to represent England in the Danone Nations Cup, one of the biggest international tournaments for young people. The team beat off competition from clubs across the country in a series of inter-school events to qualify, then travelled with Paul to Brazil where they placed 12th out of 32 teams from across the world.
Paul was presented with his award by BBC Sport’s Lynsey Hooper in front of more than a hundred delegates, which included ex-Tottenham Hotspur and England footballer Gary Mabbutt.
Paul said: “The importance of grassroots sports within any community should never be underestimated and has so many benefits for young people. It’s always been a passion of mine so it’s a real honour to be recognised by the FA in this way.
“Managing the Lewisham league is such a rewarding experience, whether that’s improving young players’ football skills, contributing to their personal development, or re-establishing a sense of local pride.”
Adrian Wickham, South East regional director at Glendale, said: “Glendale always has the community at the heart of the work it carries out and thanks to Paul’s dedication, Lewisham’s budding footballers have plenty of opportunities to play the game. He provides countless hours of football to the community and could not be more deserving of this award.”
Paul has worked for Glendale for more than 15-years, where he is responsible for all things sports-related across Lewisham’s parks as part of the national firm’s contract with Lewisham Borough Council.
The partnership was one of Glendale’s first contracts to incorporate events management and sports development alongside its traditional services.
The London Football Association Awards is an annual celebration honouring the work of all London grassroots clubs, volunteers and London FA’s key partners.