Aiken PR

The Briefing

McDonald’s Irish FA Virtual Grassroots Awards Tour arrives in East Belfast

by Aiken PR


footFootball pitches across Northern Ireland have served as bustling community hubs in Northern Ireland for many years, however, with little football having graced grounds in recent months, those spaces are quiet, growing greener than ever, but primed and ready for a return to action when the time is right.

As resilient communities continue to come together at this challenging time, it’s not only on the pitch that we are seeing green shoots, it’s off them too, and McDonald’s for the 19th year running are seeking to champion the local heroes who, through their clubs are making a hugely positive civic impact during COVID–19.

You can submit a nomination for the 2020 McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards by visiting


This year’s McDonald’s Irish FA Grassroots Awards tour is undoubtedly different due to the unprecedented times we find ourselves in, but as many of clubs throughout Northern Ireland find new ways to innovate and develop community spirit, shining a light on their efforts is more vital than ever.

Having commenced our virtual tour in Mid Ulster with previous ‘People’s Award’ Winner Elaine Junk, the tour has now travelled across the lake of Lough Neagh to East Belfast where we caught up with Chairman of Braniel Football Club and 2018 ‘Wes Gregg Coach of the Year’ winner Corey Wilson to delve deeper into how past winners are using this time to give back to serve their communities. Following his prestigious award win in 2018, McDonald’s provided Corey with funding for his UEFA B Licence Part 2 course, making him the first ever McDonald’s bursary award winner.

I normally work part–time in retail as I had started up my own coaching company at the beginning of the year, however with many of my colleagues vulnerable or living with someone who is vulnerable, my work became even more essential and I have stepped up to working as a shift leader 5/6 days a week.

“Although my hours in retail have increased, I am as dedicated as always to my role as Chairman of Braniel Football Club, seeing what we can do for members during this time and how we can eventually get back to the game.”

“We have really focused on keeping our younger members active and engaged by hosting football related quizzes via zoom for all age groups, we had a create your own Braniel kit competition which was very popular and I’ve also been creating skills challenge videos for all the kids at the club to try and encourage practice at home.”

“As a previous winner, I would encourage people to get voting for the unsung heroes of grassroots football who are doing so much for our communities at this time.”

McDonald’s is encouraging people from across Northern Ireland to visit the Irish FA site and nominate an unsung hero of the local game. The awards honour those people at the heart of grassroots football and span 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.