» The Awards & Judges

The Awards & Judges

The Aviva Club of the Year award, which is now in its tenth year and is free to enter, has seen over €150,000 awarded to clubs all over the country recognising their achievements both on and off the pitch. Open to clubs big or small they can enter under any of the four categories; Underage Participation, Coach Education, Club Development and Community.

The top two in each of the four categories will then go on to the final where they will have the opportunity to present to the judging panel for the chance to be awarded the overall Aviva FAI Club of the Year title at the FAI AGM to be in with the chance of securing the €5,000 top prize.

The judging panel is headed by Donal Conway, Chair of the FAI Underage Committees, and includes representatives from FAI Club Development, Dublin City Council and Aviva. The top two clubs in each category will receive a cheque for €1,500 to help continue their development, while the winning club will receive an additional cheque of €5,000.


Donal Conway – Chairman

Vice President of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI)

Role – Within the FAI he is involved in areas such as underage player development, women’s development plan along with being chair of the Child Welfare Committee, chair of the FAI Development Committee and Chair of the Club of the Year.

What do you look for in a COTY contender? – To see the holistic outlook of a club, ones that offer a range of football activities to young boys and girls right up to men and women. Clubs that plan for the medium and long term with regards to their members, infrastructure, football ethos and having a real base in their local community. To see clubs that when they are faced with real challenges, they set about finding solutions and ensure the club is fit for purpose and relevant to the needs of all its members.

Paul Martyn

FAI, Grassroots Education Development and Tutor

Role - I have worked for the FAI since 2006 and have been on the FAI COTY panel since 2007. I have worked in Volunteer Education, Club development and currently Coach Education department as coordinator and tutor. I am Head Coach of the Special Olympics football team and a coach with the Women’s National team.

What they look for in a COTY contender? - A club of the year nominee should be a club that has many good things happening as well as a plan or vision for the future. The club should be proactive and an integral part of its’ community. The club should also be upskilling their coaches to help make their players better. Improve the coach, improve the team and that will improve the club.

Karl Mitchell

Sport and Active Living Manager, Dublin City Council

Role – As Sport and Active Living Manager, Karl’s role was coordinating policy and direction of operational activities in relation to sports development, major events sourcing, facility delivery, improving links between sports NGBs, local government and private sectors. He liaised with relevant stakeholders on playing pitches, grant aid, training facilities, club house development, club governance and got first hand knowledge of the numerous skill sets and dedication of volunteers and coaches involved in the football.

What do you look for in a COTY contender? – The clubs relationship with the wider community and what role it plays in making that area a great place to live, work in or visit. A great club will also value every member and they will have a commitment to good football but in an atmosphere of participation and enjoyment for all.

Mark Russell

Group Sponsorship Manager, Aviva Insurance Ltd

Role - I manage the sponsorship portfolio for Aviva which includes grassroots programmes like the FAI Junior Cup, Mini Rugby Festivals and of course the Club of the Year as well as the Aviva Stadium sponsorship. The Stadium gets most of the headlines, but its our grassroots programmes which are the heart and sole of the sponsorship.

What do you look for in a COTY contender? 'Care More' and 'Leave Legacy' are two of Aviva's brand values, so I focus on those areas when judging clubs - how they work with their communities and how they can develop their clubs in a way that creates legacy

Eamonn Scott

Editor, Herald Striker

Role – As Editor of the Herald Striker supplement and their online social media channels, he plays a vital role in the promotion of Irish grassroots football. Now a 40 page supplement twice weekly along with 24/7 online content through Facebook and Twitter, Herald Striker is the go-to media resource for junior soccer in Ireland.

What do you look for in a COTY contender? – Social inclusion and the power of sport to instil proper values as schools players mature to young adults rates highly for Eamon. Volunteerism is one of football’s strongest currencies and the development and promotion of the game only comes about as a result of the selfless actions of some many great people who form the backbone of any great club.