IFA Community awards

Pat Jennings.
Pat Jennings.

THE McDonald’s Irish FA Community Awards 2013 have been launched to recognise and reward the clubs, coaches and volunteers that make outstanding contributions to grassroots football across Northern Ireland.

Last year Londonderry boasted three winners, with Institute’s Gareth Connor winning the Young Volunteer of the Year Award; Ballymoor FC claiming the Accredited Club of the Year Award and Jon Clifford posthumously rewarded for almost 40 years of service to TriStar by receiving the Outstanding Contribution Award.

Speaking during last year’s awards event his nephew Frank Fleming, who is also a committee member at the Club, said;

“It’s an absolute honour to come here and receive this award on behalf of Jon. It’s sad that he’s no longer here but to have so many people recognise him this evening makes me very proud.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who nominated Jon as he truly deserves to get recognition for the work that he did for so many people over so many years. I would also like to pay special tribute to everyone involved with Tristar Boys FC past and present; they are the people who learned so much from Jon over the years and who are now able to pass on their skills to new members joining the club.”

Nominations are open for the 2013 awards at www.mcdonalds.co.uk/kickstart or www.irishfa.com/communityawards so if you know a coach, club or volunteer that deserves recognition for their contribution to the beautiful game at grassroots level please complete an online nomination form. People are encouraged to follow the McDonald’s Irish FA Community Awards on twitter @2013Grassroots.

Former Northern Ireland and Spurs goalkeeper Pat Jennings, McDonald’s Head of Northern Ireland Football, gives his backing to the awards initiative;

“The McDonald’s Irish FA Community Awards are an excellent way of showcasing and paying tribute to the great work that is being done in grassroots football clubs and communities right across Northern Ireland. These coaches, clubs and volunteers do so much for the local game and their dedication and commitment to the children they coach is exceptional; it is only fitting that McDonald’s and the Irish FA pay special tribute to them as these are the stars of grassroots football.”

The 2012 Awards event saw Northern Ireland’s local unsung heroes being celebrated during a gala evening where special guests Sir Geoff Hurst, Ian Rush, Eric Harrison and Pat Jennings joined Northern Ireland Manager Michael O’Neill in helping McDonald’s and the Irish FA celebrate their achievements in the game at grassroots level.

The McDonald’s Irish FA Community Awards form a key part of McDonald’s Community Partnership with the Irish FA; a partnership that has been developing grassroots football since 2002 and is helping young footballers shine.

This partnership is delivering a lasting legacy for grassroots football through ongoing coach creation and education, a new Club Accreditation Scheme, the McDonald’s Irish FA Community Awards and through a series of regional Small Sided Games Centres.