THE Malvern-led Mercian Junior League have won plaudits from the Football Association.
Organisers runs boys’ and girls’ football from under eights to 18s across Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and south Birmingham.
Their efforts have been recognised after winning a bronze award in the 2013-14 FA Respect and Fair Play Awards.
Malvern-based chairman George Silverman received a letter from FA chairman Greg Dyke congratulating the league on being identified as the overall award winner for Worcestershire.
The letter said: “This is in recognition of your league’s commitment to offering your participants, referees and spectators an experience of football that is fair, safe and enjoyable.
“As a consequence, you have been selected by the county FA to receive bronze status in the FA’s Respect Reward Scheme.”
The league will be considered for the regional silver award with the winners then invited to an awards ceremony prior to the FA Community Shield between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday, August 10.
Silverman said the recognition is always welcome for the league, which is run voluntarily by a committee.
He continued: “We take what we do in running this league very seriously and do it well — my colleagues and I on the committee give a lot of our free time to make sure we get as much right as we can each season.
“The growth of the league over the past 25 years has been phenomenal, which suggests the clubs locally agree.
“We have embraced the respect and fair play aspects of the game wholeheartedly since they were launched because we believe that it’s the only way the game can be played properly.
“Our league child welfare officer Ray Wright works tirelessly with our committee to ensure this side of the work we do gets treated with the level of seriousness it deserves.
“Referees deserve respect, players have to learn to respect referees, team-mates and the opposition and, vitally, parents have to learn to respect the referees, the opposition players and parents.
“We have the occasional incident, as all leagues do these days, but we deal with them and stamp out poor behaviour by imposing sensible sanctions if the committee feel they are warranted. The clubs know we want to be as lenient with them as we can, but there are times when, for the sake of the game and of all the clubs in our league, we have to adopt a disciplinarian approach.
“We haven’t shirked our responsibilities when that has been necessary. With more serious issues that arise, we work closely with the county FA disciplinary team and the county FA child welfare officer.”
The league, with more than 200 teams signed up, will be renamed this season as long-term sponsors Festival Housing have changed their name to Fortis.