A reporter for CBC’s Edmonton AM was among the recipients of the 2013 Alberta Justice and Solicitor General Crime Prevention Awards earlier this week.

Tim Adams was one of two civilian individuals to receive the award this year, which recognizes unique and innovative efforts made by local citizens and organizations to help build safe and strong communities across the province.

Adams received the award for his work with Free Footie — an organized soccer league that gives youths who could not otherwise afford it a chance to play.

Adams started Free Footie in 2006 after a story he was chasing took him to McCauley Jr. High School on the city’s north side.

"He had occasion to see firsthand the needs of the youth in the community and the lack of opportunity or resources to play organized soccer," said MLA Matt Jeneroux, who handed out the awards.

"Mr. Adams took it upon himself to develop a soccer league, seeing this as a chance to build community, foster belonging and expose youth to positive role models through coaching and agency support."

In the seven years since Adams started the organization with a single team, Free Footie has grown to include 30 teams and 600 players. It is staffed entirely by a fleet of 150 volunteers, who are managed by Adams.

Initiatives help prevent crime

Since starting the project, Adams has raised over $100,000 — enough to equip every player with shin pads, socks, shorts and jerseys, and also to provide transportation for all players to and from the games.

Speaking at the ceremony, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Dale McGowan said initiatives like Adams serve a key role in crime prevention.

"You don’t read very often a headline that says how many vehicles were not stolen, how much property was not damaged last night, or how many seniors were protected through education ... you don’t hear how many kids did not make it into a gang — [but] that’s the true success."

This week’s event was the 22nd anniversary of the awards ceremony, and launched Alberta’s Crime Prevention Week.

"Real measures of success are at the community level, driven by the people ... that lead and promote community policing," McGowan said. "We thank you for the job that you do."

Other civilian award recipients this year included Beth Reitz in Ponoka, Alta., the Boyle Street Education Centre, REACH Immigrant and Refugee Initiative (RIRI), the Injera Projects in Edmonton and the Linden Citizens on Patrol.

The full list of recipients is available here.