Quality pitches are essential for the development of football at every level, so grassroots groundsmen - the vast majority of whom are volunteers - are being recognised through the Essex FA's 2015 Groundsman of the Year Awards.
Nominations are required by January 12 and the award has been set-up to recognise the contribution of the 'unsung heroes', who work in all weather, all year round, to make sure thousands of matches can take place on as high a standard of playing surface as is achievable.
These individuals are usually giving up their own time so this year's awards aim to thank them and ensure they're not taken for granted.
Especially at this time of year, when groundsmen and women come into their own in a bid to fend off the elements and make surfaces playable, it's crucial that their efforts are acknowledged.
The Essex FA, with The FA, set out to do that by offering local and national recognition every year. Nominations, via a form which can be downloaded from www.essexfa.com, are required as soon as possible.
The awards recognise football's volunteer workforce at Step Seven or below in the pyramid (including youth football). That includes clubs participating in both Saturday and Sunday competitions.
Once the deadline has passed, the County FA will then forward three nominations on to The FA in time for their own national deadline.
Judges examine the quality of each nominated pitch and also take into consideration the groundsman's skills and knowledge, their ambitions for the surface, the resources they have available, how often the pitch is used and the amount of time they are able to work on it. Judges look at their working environment, weighing that up against the quality of the pitch.
County Development Manager, Brendan Walshe, explained: "This is a great opportunity for leagues and clubs to recognise the dedicated efforts of volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure pitches are kept in the best possible condition for players to enjoy the game on.
Read the full article from the Newham Recorder here.