Sports

Mid-Ulster Ladies CELEBRATE volunteers

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

WITH the support of the Big Lottery Fund's Celebrate programme, 2017 has been a year of celebration and change for Mid-Ulster Ladies Football club.

On the field, following the unavailability of a host of experienced players, the club took the very difficult to give up its Premier Division status, in the Danske Bank league, and to play in the NIWFA North 1 division.

This decision was taken unanimously by club members in the best interests of a very young squad of players so that they could be given time to develop without having the added pressure of a likely relegation battle in the Premier Division.

Since its formation, Mid-Ulster Ladies Football Club has relied heavily on volunteers many of whom also volunteer with other organisations.

In Mid-Ulster Ladies' case, volunteers help with club administration, coaching players, fund raising as well as driving players around the country along with a range of other necessary jobs behind the scenes.

Supported by the Big Lottery Fund's Celebrate programme Mid-Ulster Ladies FC hosted a number of celebratory events, for volunteers and the local community, as well as producing a short film highlighting the importance of volunteers.

A celebration event, attended by upwards on 175 people, was held at the Royal Hotel in Cookstown to launch the film and to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of the volunteers.

Guests included players, past players, parents, coaches, volunteers as well as representatives from Mid Ulster District Council, Northern Ireland Football League, Mid Ulster Football Association, Irish Football Association and volunteers from a range of other community organisations.

The guest of honour was former Mid-Ulster Ladies player Simone Magill, who is currently completing her Master's Degree at University in Liverpool.

With the support of her family and volunteers at the club Simone developed from a primary school pupil that was interested in football to being a professional footballer with Everton and a Northern Ireland International.

Simone herself had plenty to celebrate in the last 12 months having scored the fastest ever International goal and securing a full time professional contract with Everton.

Simone introduced the volunteering film, which is available on YouTube which has interviews and footage with coaches, parents, players and other volunteers detailing the very real difference that volunteering makes both to organisations and to volunteers.

Volunteers and club members tell their own stories, including how volunteering and support from volunteers has helped them through difficulties and challenges in their own lives.

Feedback to date has been extremely positive and the Irish Football Association's Women's Domestic Football Manager Gail Redmond will be using the film as part of a presentation to UEFA on volunteers in Women's Football.

Also at the event a raffle was held which raised 600 for Air Ambulance NI in memory of Mid-Ulster Ladies FC player Lesley-Ann McCarragher, who was tragically killed in a road traffic accident in April 2016.

The weekend culminated in a Community Fun Day at Mid Ulster Sports Arena.

Over 500 people attended a real family fun day with fantastic weather and activities including football tennis, football pool, football darts, bouncy castles, sumo suit wrestling.

It was a very popular event and the club thanks McDonald's Cookstown for their support and for providing refreshments as well as everyone who so generously donated prizes for the raffle and who donated on the night.

Sponsors were: O'Neill's, Intersport, Knipe's Butchers, Select interiors, Eddie's Tattoo, Holly's Beauty Room Moneymore, Dv8, Darren Allen, Precious, Cottage Flowers, The Dunleath, Brown Sugar, The Greenvale Hotel, Mossvet, Homebase, Sam Stewart and Tesco.

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