Published on: 29 June 2021

Building respect

Ray Lee, a junior football coach in East London, is the Nationwide Mutual Respect Award winner for April.

The award recognises outstanding contributions, achievements and behaviour in grassroots football by players under 18, coaches, teams, parents and referees.

Ray coaches four teams at Chigwell FC based in Essex and East London.


The judging panel recognised Ray for his "constant reinforcement" of mutual respect values in grassroots football.

"I see respect as a vital issue in football, and I try to support it in everything we do,” he said.

"As a coach, I see the children as people, not just players. Development doesn't just happen in a one-hour match but in lessons that can help throughout their lives."

"I see the pitch as a classroom, a place where learning is supported. When I referee our under 9 and 10 games, I usually do it without a whistle and encourage the players to help me."

Positive football

The panel were also impressed with the levels of respect his teams show. "At the start of the match, we do not toss a coin. My players will offer the kick-off to our opponents," Ray said.

"When the ball goes out of play on the touchline, I ask whose ball is it? And the children will say it's the opposition ball. I then praise them for being honest.

"When the ball goes out of play on the goal line, I will ask the goalkeeper if it's a corner or a goal kick. They usually tell the truth and receive praise.

“I try to learn and remember the names of every player. I praise them by name, for being honest or after good play.

"I try to encourage parents not to shout out instructions to the players. The players have to make their own decisions.

"You could ask why respect is important? You need to respect both your teammates and the opposition. Without your teammates, you have no team. Without the opposition you have no game."

Ray received a trophy and tickets to an upcoming England game.


The Mutual Respect Award is part of our partnership with the Football Association's Respect campaign. It aims to make grassroots football more respectful and positive.

Every month, you can nominate someone from your football club who has gone above and beyond to promote respect on or off the pitch.

The target is to engage with one million parents and coaches in The FA Respect Campaign as part of our three-year partnership.

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