JUNIOR FOOTBALL: Colhoun lifts UEFA award at Windsor Park

Gerry Colhoun (right) receives his award from Patrick Nelson as Kevin Doherty looks on. Picture by William Cherry/Presseye
Gerry Colhoun (right) receives his award from Patrick Nelson as Kevin Doherty looks on. Picture by William Cherry/Presseye

Trojans coach Gerry Colhoun had double reason to celebrate when he attended the Northern Ireland versus Greece UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier at Windsor Park recently.

For not only did Gerry enjoy watching Northern Ireland qualify for their first major tournament in 30 years – he also picked up a top award from UEFA.

The Executive Committee of European football’s governing body chose Gerry as the silver prize winner in the best leader category in the UEFA Grassroots Week Awards.

Irish Football Association Chief Executive Patrick Nelson presented Gerry with his award alongside Kevin Doherty, the Irish FA’s Regional Grassroots Development Officer at Derry City and Strabane Council.

The UEFA award is given to a coach/organiser who has exhibited exceptional commitment and had a big impact, through numbers of players or social significance, over a long period.

Kevin Doherty, who nominated Gerry, said: “Gerry’s enthusiasm for the game is unrivalled. Whether it’s as a schools coach, administrator, reporter or representative, he always has the player as his number one priority.”

Gerry, who promoted the concept of small-sided games for young players in Creggan more than 30 years ago, is the driving force behind the Foyle Games Development Centre where more than 700 boys and girls play football each week and he works tirelessly for his club, Trojans.

Meanwhile the IFA has teamed up with the Northern Ireland Women’s Football Association to organise a new U17 National League for Girls and Foyle Belles are among the teams taking part.

In a project funded by FIFA, the league will give girls from across Northern Ireland an opportunity to be involved in football over the winter period.

With the winter months usually being the off-season in NIWFA senior football it will help give girls in this critical age group an opportunity to stay involved in football.

The U17 league is running from now until the end of February with all matches being played on Friday evenings at Marrowbone Oldpark in north Belfast and Valley Leisure Centre in Newtownabbey.

The league consists of eight teams - Bangor Ladies, Carnmoney Ladies, Lisburn Ladies, St Oliver Plunkett, Portadown Integrated Ladies, Foyle Belles, Carrick Rangers Ladies and Crusaders Strikers - and all matches will be 11-a-side.

IFA Women’s Domestic Football Manager Sara Booth said: “We have worked hard since the launch of the IFA Girls’ and Women’s Football Plan in 2014 to put the structures in place to create the opportunity for more girls and women to play football.

“This new league is an important addition to the player pathway for girls and women and we are extremely grateful to FIFA for providing the funding to make it possible.”