Regional winners named in IFA McDonald's grassroots awards
For the 19th year running, the McDonald's Irish FA Grassroots Football Awards have honoured the regional footballing heroes who are integral to the local game right across Northern Ireland.
Fifteen regional winners were presented with awards across various categories at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, by Northern Ireland's record goalscorer David Healy. Through their clubs the various winners have made a significant and positive civic impact both on and off the pitch during COVID-19, helping the game to return safely within their communities.
Former Northern Ireland striker David Healy was on hand to congratulate the 'heroes of the local game' who will now go forward to the national Northern Ireland awards in November.
Commenting at the awards David said: "Year on year the McDonald's Irish FA Grassroots Football awards recognise the incredible work and commitment of football clubs and volunteers within the grassroots game, who give their time to enable it to flourish and grow. Over the past few months in particular, the proactive and valuable community work from local grassroots football clubs has been a huge credit to all involved. The awards are so important in honouring the volunteers and unsung heroes of the grassroots game who are the heartbeat of clubs and communities and contribute hugely for the good of football in Northern Ireland."
This year's award categories include: Club of the Year, Futsal Award, Inclusivity Award, People's Choice, Volunteer of the year, Young volunteer of the year and Coach of the year.
The 2020 regional awards have seen clubs and volunteers from right across Northern Ireland gain special recognition, and this recognition is only possible through the nominations received from the football loving public.
In what has been a challenging year for sport and wider society, many of this year's worthy regional winners have incredible stories to tell, none more so than Artur Kopyt who has recently taken up a coaching role at Belgium Pro League club, Royale Union Saint Gilliose.
Artur epitomises the spirit of the awards having successfully developed a youth futsal programme for young players across Northern Ireland. Artur said: "My coaching journey started in 2009 when I took my first qualification with Irish FA. Since then I have been involved with several grassroots football clubs across Northern Ireland and have had the privilege of working with various age groups and abilities."
"The McDonald's Irish FA Grassroots Football Awards play an important role in acknowledging the efforts of volunteers who are vital in providing football opportunities and physical exercise to many children across Northern Ireland. The awards represent a huge honour for grassroots clubs and individuals."
Club of the Year:
22nd Old Boy's & Ladies FC; Bangor YMFC; Caledon FC; Draperstown FC.
Volunteer of the Year:
John Haveron, Albert Foundry; David Cunningham, Ballymoney Utd Y Academy; Noel Sweeney, Coalisland Young Stars; Maeve Henning, Bangor Swifts Jnrs; John O'Hanlon ,Windmill Stars.
Wes Gregg Coach of the Year:
Christopher Brady, Sky Blues Magherafelt; Stephen Gamble, Greenisland FC; Artur Koypt, Sparta Belfast Futsal/Glens Eagles; Shearnan McCay, Sion Swifts Ladies; Jason Quigley, Portrush FC; Rachel Rodgers, Mid Ulster Ladies.
William Shanks, Ridgeway/Co Down Select, National; William O'Flaherty MBE, Ballymena SSG, National.