Brent Schools’ Football Association wishes to congratulate Fatima Hussein on winning the UEFA Best Grassroots Leader Award. The 19-year-old student scooped the European award after winning the Bobby Moore Award at the 2018 FA Grassroots Football Awards for her work with BSFA and Capital City Academy.

Writing on TheFA.com, Fatima commented “I’m so proud to win the Best Grassroots Leader award this year and hope I can continue to inspire other young girls to follow in my footsteps.

“As a young Muslim woman, I have faced a lot of challenges to get to this point so it’s amazing to be recognised for both my coaching and volunteering.

“The award itself is for leadership, specifically around my work with Sport at the Heart. To be honest, the whole team there deserve an award. We’ve all worked so hard to increase grassroots participation, especially among young girls from the Brent area.

“I coached various football camps over the summer at Roundwood Leisure Centre and the turnout was amazing. I think that’s down to the FA’s investment and support in women’s football and also the buzz of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“A few years ago, we’d struggle to get ten girls to the football camp each day, but over the summer we had around 100. It was always full.”

Talking about how she connects with the girls she coaches, Fatima wrote: “I think the girls trust me because they see I’m just like them, and a good leader definitely has to be relatable. I am always telling them how football saved my life and that’s really no exaggeration.

“When I was a teenager, I was a problem child. My parents wanted me to wear the hijab, go to school, come home, do my homework and go to bed. I wasn’t allowed to play football, so I rebelled in most areas.

“Firstly, I used to pretend to have a job, but secretly still play football. I didn’t like sneaking around, but I couldn’t abandon my passion.

“Football was also a release. School was a struggle back then because I had big trouble with reading English. I remember in class one day my teacher asked me to read a paragraph from a book and I just couldn’t. All the other kids started laughing and I reacted by starting a fight in the classroom.

“From that point onwards, my teacher took me under her wing. She gave me one-on-one tuition at lunch and talked to my mum almost every day. That was when I started to see the impact leaders can have.

“I was also inspired when our school brought down a coach from Queens Park Rangers. He took me to the stadium and eventually started me on my coaching path. I went on to play for QPR as a right winger and hope to turn professional one day.”

However, any ambitions of playing the game for a living will have to wait; Fatima is currently reading Sports Science at Loughborough University and combining her studies with representing Loughborough in both eleven-a-side football and Futsal. 

Fatima is a great example to the young people of Brent, whether they are girls or boys. Her coaching journey – both with BSFA and Sport at the Heart – has created life-changing opportunities for her. We are proud to have played a part in that process and wish Fatima every success whilst simultaneously spreading the message that Brent is full of young people who deserve the chance to achieve their full potential.

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