Northern Ireland’s record goalscorer, David Healy, and former international player Jim Magilton have launched the 2020 McDonald’s Irish FA Grassroots Football Awards at a special coaching session and Q&A event at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
Healy and Magilton put P4 pupils from St Bride’s Primary School through their paces alongside a number of previous Grassroots Awards winners and volunteers, providing exclusive insights into the McDonald’s Fun Football programme.
The awards, now in their 19th year, honour the unsung heroes of grassroots football, spanning nine categories, including Mum of the Year, Young Volunteer of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Accredited Club, Wes Gregg Coach of the Year, the People’s Award, Inclusive Project and the Special Recognition Award.
Leading the call for nominations in Northern Ireland and urging communities to honour their local footballing heroes, David Healy said: “Participation in football continues to grow across Northern Ireland and as we look ahead to an exciting summer, with the ambition to be at UEFA Euro 2020, it’s important to remember how vital the grassroots game is in providing young children with the opportunity to play regularly.
“The McDonald’s Irish FA Grassroots Football Awards are a very important part of the two organisations’ community partnership which, year on year, recognises the vital work and contributions from the people in clubs across Northern Ireland who are the heartbeat of the local game.
“Anyone involved in local grassroots football is eligible to be nominated, from volunteers to coaches and club secretaries, so get online to nominate a local hero and give them the opportunity to be recognised at the ceremony later this year.”
Magilton, who is the Irish FA’s Elite Performance Director, said the annual awards were an excellent way to recognise unsung heroes involved in the grassroots game.
As the longest standing supporter of grassroots football in the UK, McDonald’s champions those selfless volunteers who enable children and young adults to play and enjoy grassroots football in a safe, friendly and welcoming environment regardless of age, gender or disability.
2019 saw a record number of nominations across all categories in the McDonald’s awards, underlining the growth of the awards and passion for grassroots football in Northern Ireland.
The Grassroots Football Awards are a core pillar of the McDonald’s four-year partnership with UK football associations which runs until 2022. The overall programme will deliver five million hours of fun, inclusivity, introductory coaching sessions and family events to local communities, reaching 500,000 children across the UK.
At a local level the Fun Football programme will see 250,000 hours of coaching, games and fun delivered by the Irish Football Association Foundation to more than 75,000 children from across Northern Ireland by 2022, introducing thousands of children aged 5-11 to the game for the first time.