Ballymena man scores national Grassroots Football People’s Award

Ballymena man Billy O’Flaherty MBE has been announced as the national winner of the People’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Grassroots Football at the McDonald’s Irish FA Grassroots Football Awards for 2020.

Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 7:49 am

The annual McDonald’s Irish FA Grassroots Football Awards, which celebrate 20 years in Northern Ireland this year, recognise the incredible work and commitment of football clubs and volunteers who give up their time and make a long-lasting impact on young people and communities across Northern Ireland.

The People’s Award celebrates the outstanding contribution made by an individual to football in their local community and beyond.

Billy is a founding member of Carniny Amateur and Youth Football Club in Ballymena and is widely regarded as a football stalwart in the Mid-Antrim area having been involved in grassroots football for over four decades.

Pete Snodden (host) along with People’s Award winner Billy O’Flaherty and McDonald’s Fun Football ambassador Pat Jennings (on screen).

He was awarded an MBE for his work in the local community and has had many responsibilities on and off the football pitch – from secretary and committee member to coach.

Billy was also a founding member of the Allstars female football team in Ballymena and has recently played a key role in setting up a veterans team at Carniny.

He said: “I’m humbled to receive this award, and I would like to thank my family and all of the coaches and volunteers that have worked closely with me down the years.

“Local football has been one of the best tools for cross-community relations in Northern Ireland and we must not underestimate that. Football is often the common denominator that brings people from all walks of life together, which has helped us take great strides over the years towards becoming a more inclusive society.”

McDonald’s Fun Football ambassador Pat Jennings said the awards provide a great opportunity to celebrate the fantastic work that takes place at all levels of the grassroots game in Northern Ireland.

He said: “Congratulations to all of our regional and national award nominees, and in particular the winners, who all work tirelessly in the background of their clubs to keep the local grassroots game alive.

“Each year when the awards come around I am humbled by the dedication, passion and enthusiasm of our grassroots volunteers, but none more so than in 2020, which was an extremely challenging year for us all.

“I look forward to celebrating with all of the award nominees and winners in person when it is safe to do so and hope to welcome you all to our exciting McDonald’s Fun Football and Small-Sided Games initiatives when ongoing restrictions allow.”