Off The Pitch Award 

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Laura McAllister – UEFA

A former international player and team captain, Laura McAllister was capped 24 times by Wales while representing Cardiff City Ladies FC. Off the pitch, McAllister has served as chair of Sport Wales and a UK Sport board member from 2010 to 2016, the year in which she was awarded a CBE in recognition of her services to the sport.

McAllister is currently the deputy chair of the UEFA Women’s Football Committee and a professor of Public Policy at Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre, chair of the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame and co-chair of the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales. In December 2022, she was honoured as one of the BBC 100 Women.

Ellie Cross – Starling Bank

As Senior Marketing Manager at Starling Bank – the only bank in the UK founded by a woman – Ellie Cross has championed women’s football, leading campaigns committed to making a real difference for the sport and advocating the importance of giving more women and girls access to football.

In recent years, her campaigns have included “Kick On” – a partnership with Gift of Kit, which gave clubs and schools across the UK a chance to apply for Starling branded kits, equipment and FA-affiliated coaching vouchers, and SportsAid Athlete; a partnership with SportsAid, which awarded £1,000 each to five young footballers – all girls aged 18 and under. These grants went towards travel costs, coaching, gym sessions and even football boots!

Katie Gritt – Panini

Katie Gritt is Head of Marketing for Sport at Panini, a brand that is synonymous with football worldwide.

Last year, Gritt led the launch of a licensing partnership with The FA to create the first-ever UK domestic football sticker collection to celebrate the Barclays Women’s Super League. She is dedicated to recognising and celebrating the growth of the women’s game and fostering the longstanding relationship between the FA and Panini.

Donna-Maria Cullen – Tottenham Hotspur

Donna-Maria Cullen is an Executive Director of Tottenham Hotspur FC and Director of Tottenham Hotspur Women FC. With over 30 years’ of experience in business management, she is a natural leader and the Trustee of the Club’s Foundation and a Director of the London School of Excellence Tottenham, located alongside the stadium and championed by the club.

Before joining Tottenham Hotspur in 2006, she advised the club for over 14 years, so lives and breathes everything they are and embody. Cullen currently oversees the club’s planning consultations, corporate affairs, communications and marketing activities.

Fran Kirby – Chelsea

Fran Kirby is a professional footballer for Chelsea FC and has played a huge role in the club’s successes since joining in 2015, becoming their all-time leading goal scorer.

Kirby was part of the 2022 Women’s Euros team that went on to win the tournament, as well as receiving the Inspiration Awards at the 2022 Pride Awards. She is admired far and wide for her sporting performance and for being an advocate for the women’s game. Individually, she has been awarded a plethora of accolades, including 2014 WSL2 Players’ Player of the Year, PFA Players’ Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Women’s Footballer of the Year for the 2017-2018 season at Chelsea.

Off the pitch, she was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Winchester for her achievements both on and off the field, in particular her work supporting mental health and wellbeing. In April 2020, she was named in Diva magazine’s ‘Visible Lesbian 100’ during Lesbian Visibility Week.

Nikki Doucet – NewCo

Towards the end of last year, the Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclays Women’s Championship clubs made the unanimous decision to form a new organisation, NewCo, to lead the women’s professional game into a new era.

The launch of this independent body was spearheaded by the appointment of Nikki Doucet as CEO, who became the first CEO of the top two women’s professional leagues in England.

Doucet is a visionary who passionately believes in the power and importance of women’s football. She is committed to creating positive change and a more equitable society.

Lola Ogunbote – Burnley

Lola Ogunbote is the Head of Women’s Football at Burnley Football Club. She is passionate about building communities around football, for women in particular, empowering young women and girls through sport, and advancing youth participation in sport to teach essential life skills.

Ogunbote is a qualified lawyer in the UK who began working in the world of football with Arsenal FC in 2016.

She combines her passion for leadership, gender empowerment and football through her role as the Executive Director of Goals for Girls, a US-based not-for-profit that unites girls through football to inspire change.

Rida Mohammad – MACE Group

Rida Mohammad has led activity to promote the women’s game in her workplace and throughout local communities in Wales where she has campaigned for 3G pitches for football teams. She is particularly focussed on encouraging young girls to take up the sport.

Working for Mace Group, Mohammad has led the firm’s CSR commitments and has managed the company’s football team. She has organised sports activities for employees and has raised money for various charities that have a particular focus on women.

Leigh Nicol – Crystal Palace

Leigh Nicol is known for her brilliant skill on the pitch, playing for Crystal Palace Women’s FC; off the pitch, her determination and drive are just as impressive.

Nicol has done a lot to further the conversation around mental health, depression and suicidal thoughts. She regularly speaks about her own experiences in the hope of not only educating others but helping others overcome these problems.

Dawn Airey – Barclay’s FA WSL and Championship

Dawn Airey is a British media executive, sports administrator and independent company director. The media chief has chaired England’s two professional women’s football leagues since she joined the FA in 2019 and was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Diversity Awards for her work to advance women’s football. She advocates tirelessly for the growth of the game, both on and off the pitch.