Falkirk Football Club was voted ‘Best Professional Club in the Community’ at the 2014 SFA Grassroots Awards at Hampden Park last week.
It was welcome recognition of the hard work from staff and volunteers at the club and the role it plays in promoting active lifestyles across the Falkirk district.
The Grassroots Awards, run in partnership with the SFA and McDonalds, recognise the contribution and achievements made my volunteers, coaches and clubs throughout Scotland.
Falkirk Football Community Foundation chief executive David Craig, who collected the award from Scotland legend Kenny Dalglish and national manager Gordon Strachan, said: “We are thrilled to receive this highly prestigious award for the work Falkirk provide in the local community.
“The staff and volunteers have worked tremendously hard over the last year to continue to support people in the community and ensure that we have a strong and vibrant football programme that encourages children at all ages and abilities.
“To come out on top from all the professional clubs in Scotland is quite an achievement and everyone at the club is very proud.”
Falkirk has created hundreds of opportunities for the community to enjoy football over the last 12 months. Judges commended the club for successfully using sport as a way to develop inclusion, participation and help young footballers enjoy the game.
Over the course of the past year, Falkirk has spent time in local primary schools - offering more than 750 children structured football coaching, as well as the opportunity to participate in a football fun session at The Falkirk Stadium.
The club’s community programme has also flourished with more than 600 boys and girls benefiting from regular training and playing in local football leagues.
Falkirk also recently held the biggest children’s football festival organised by a professional club, The Falkirk Cup, with 1328 boys and girls participating over three days.
After achieving Disability and Disability Inclusive Club status from the SFA in December 2013, the club began to establish a Powerchair Football team and recently set up the Falkirk Mental Health Football Team.
Off the pitch, the programme supported 11 unemployed young people through the Community Jobs Scotland Fund by providing employment at The Falkirk Stadium and delivered an alternative informal education programme to 25 disengaged pupils from two local secondary schools with 20 of them achieving recognised SQA qualifications.
This year, hundreds of nominations were received from across the country, with nominees first recognised at a regional level before going on to be shortlisted for the national awards.
Kenny Dalglish said: “The Falkirk Football in the Community programme sums up the spirit of grassroots football. The programme has offered thousands of kids the opportunity to enjoy football in a fun and structured environment. Grassroots football is vital to the game and without all the hard work of the volunteers and coaches up and down the country, we simply wouldn’t have football as we know it.”