On the occasion of the European Club Association's (ECA) General Assembly, the winners of the 6th Edition of the ECA Awards were announced. These awards were first introduced back in 2010 with the aim of rewarding outstanding club performances, encouraging best practice and highlighting successful club management. This year, four ECA Member Clubs were honoured for the following achievements:
European Club Of The Year 2015: FC Barcelona (ESP)
For their outstanding achievements during the 2014/15 season at both European and domestic level.
Best Sporting Progress 2015: FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (UKR)
For their significant progress in European competition during the 2014/15 season.
After ending two consecutive UEFA Europa League campaigns at the Round of 32 in 2012/13 and 2013/14 respectively, in 2014/15 the club re-entered the UEFA Europa League Group Stage and made it once more to the Round of 32. From then on, they made it all the way to the final of the competition, only losing in a thrilling match act against Sevilla FC. This great performance has allowed the club to make a significant jump in the UEFA Club Coefficient Ranking 2015.
BEST COMMUNITY & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY PROGRAMME 2015: Arsenal FC (ENG)
For their successful "Arsenal Employability Programme".
The "Arsenal Employability Programme" was set up in 2011 as a direct response to the growing levels of youth unemployment in the club's local community. The unique connection Arsenal FC has with the community provided an ideal platform to help unemployed individuals who have few pathways into the world of work.The programme is delivered over a 12-week period resulting in a nationally recognised qualification. Formal literacy and numeracy functional skills qualifications are provided to ensure participants have the basic skills required to enter the job market. Since its inception in 2011, over 300 people have gained jobs as a direct result of Arsenal's employment programmes. As part of the project, relationships have been developed with a range of employers that offer real job opportunities. Participants are supported throughout the recruitment process and in work support is also provided. The tangible job outcomes created through this project provide some of the most disconnected members of the society with genuine opportunities, building their confidence and propelling them into employment.In turn this has a positive impact on many levels in society, not only at a community level but also easing the burden on the public purse.
For more information: www.arsenal.com/community
Similar to last year, the ECA CSR Award Winner was nominated by an independent panel which this year was composed of the following members:
- Peter Gilliéron, UEFA Executive Committee Member and Chairman of the Committee for Fair Play & Social Responsibility at UEFA;
- Marc-André Buchwalder, Co-founder and CEO of the Scort Foundation;
- Emilio Butragueño, Real Madrid CF (Winner of the ECA CSR Award 2014).
Marc-André Buchwalder presented Arsenal FC with the award and congratulated them for their outstanding CSR Programme, stating:
"The Arsenal Employability Programme perfectly illustrates the force for good that clubs can have in their local communities. The tailor-made approach, the continuous support throughout the recruitment process, the special relationships developed with a range of employers and the tangible job outcomes make this a great example of an employability project that directly impacts the lives of the participants and their families. With more than 300 people gaining employment as a direct result of the project, the Arsenal Employability Programme has proved very successful and I can only invite other clubs to get inspired by this successful CSR model."
Best Achievement 2015: FC Levadia Tallinn (EST)
For their stadium accessibility project "Together we move".
Following the recognition of a Youth Development Project in 2013 and a Marketing Initiative in 2014, the 2015 Best Achievement Award is dedicated to a Stadium Accessibility Project. A club's stadium is one of its most important tangible assets, if under ownership, and a vital economic driver for a club, both in terms of revenues and costs. In the great majority of cases, it is also a focal point for the club's community and supporters. With the quest for increasingly better match-day experiences, going hand in hand with the necessity to foster inclusiveness and accessibility, there is a growing trend within clubs to focus on stadium accessibility at all levels, particularly relating to disabled supporters. FC Levadia Tallinn has launched an innovative campaign focused on people with assistance dogs to encourage them to come to football matches.In fact, around Europe, an easy access with assistance dogs to public places, including football venues, remains a serious problem, and most are not aware on the role and importance of assistance dogs, who are specifically trained working animals relied on by their owners for independence and mobility. Through the "Together We Move" campaign, FC Levadia Tallinn is committed to provide people with assistance dogs easy access to their home matches, thanks to dedicated staff and tailor-made facilities. The project also aims at increasing the awareness of the community about the needs of people with assistance dogs and inspiring other clubs in the region and beyond to follow the example.Since the launch of the campaign, over 50'000 people have been reached, and this is a major achievement given the small community in question.
For more information: www.fclevadia.ee