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Darwen Rangers receive coveted FA award
DARWEN Rangers Junior Football Club have won a top FA award – and they are going down to Wembley Stadium to pick it up.
Club officials will receive the prestigious FA Charter Standard Development Club Award ahead of England’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino.
Club secretary Nicola Gregson and coach Derek Dawson will represent the club at the annual grassroots football awards ceremony.
“This is a great honour for the club and we are thrilled to have won a national award,” said Nicola who has been with the club for more than three years.
“We strive to be a part of the community and offer the chance to be involved in football, whether it is playing or in a coaching capacity.
“We also try to offer a range of other sports. So to be acknowledged in this way for the work we do is fantastic.”
On Friday, Darwen Rangers will collect the award in front of football legends to include Sir Geoff Hurst and Pat Jennings.
They will also get the chance to meet England players after the match – although Nicola said she is more interested in meeting FA officials who maybe able to help with the development of the club.
“It will be great to meet some of the players after the game,” added Nicola. “But I am more interested in speaking to those people who could perhaps help move the club forward.
“Hopefully, I’ll have a chance meet Sir Trevor Brooking!”
Darwen Rangers was set up in 1991 by Bill Stemp who is the club’s current vice chairman.
The club has around 300 youngsters in teams from under fives to under 18s and is in the process of setting up a girls team which will be run by Nicola.
Rangers have strong community connections in the town working closely with schools and Darwen Cricket Club. It has run courses in other sports such as archery and netball.
The club train and play at Sandy Lane and Branch Road with sessions held most evenings.
“We have so many teams that something is going on most evenings,” said Nicola. “Our ethos is to provide football for everyone of all abilities. We don’t only coach youngters how to play football we also help them gain their coaching badges as well. We have able bodied and disbabled youngsters at the club so our aim is to include everyone in the community.”
The FA Community Awards, presented by McDonald’s, were founded in 2010 to recognise and celebrate those coaches, volunteers, clubs and leagues, across England who dedicate their time to grassroots football in their local community.
McDonald’s Director of Football, Sir Geoff Hurst, part of the judging panel comments: “Darwen Rangers JFC embodies the spirit of a grassroots club. Darwen Rangers JFC provide their community with a fun and enjoyable environment to play football.
“The support and service they provide their community is second to none. They optimise why we honour clubs as part of these awards and thoroughly deserve the recognition they will receive at the ceremony.
“I am looking forward to meeting the coaches and volunteers from Darwen Rangers JFC on Friday to express my congratulations on their win!”
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