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Grassroots football: Gary Neville goes home

The England and Manchester United legend visits his boyhood club Bury Juniors FC in search for community football heroes.

Gary Neville took time out to visit the club where his illustrious career began this weekend at Bury Juniors FC.

Gary met with coaches and young players to talk about the importance of recognising the volunteers and coaches that make the grassroots game happen every week, urging people to nominate their grassroots heroes as part of The 2013 FA Community Awards, presented by McDonald’s. The awards recognise and celebrate those coaches, volunteers, clubs and leagues across England who dedicate their time to grassroots football in their local community.

Gary was joined at the club by Eric Harrison, McDonald’s Head Coach and Gary’s ex-Manchester United youth coach, who influenced the careers of other Red Devil legends including David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. Eric and Gary joined forces to take a training session at the club and coach some of Bury Juniors’ young players.

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The club, founded almost 30 years ago by Gary’s parents, has grown from strength to strength over that time, now offering children over 11 different age groups the opportunity to play football in their local community.

McDonald’s and FA Community Awards Ambassador Gary Neville, said:

“These awards help us, each year, to recognise those at the very heart of the game – the true champions of football in England. Without the energy, enthusiasm and continued dedication of these unsung heroes, grassroots football in so many communities would not exist.

Every budding footballer starts at grassroots level and I can honestly say that without the commitment from coaches and volunteers when I was a young boy I wouldn’t have had a stepping stone into the professional game. Bury Juniors was a fantastic place to start playing football. The club has a great atmosphere and I will always be eternally grateful for the free time that the coaches and volunteers sacrificed to ensure that I could play football.

It’s fantastic that McDonald’s and The FA recognise those that give up their time to provide football to thousands of kids across the country and I urge you to nominate your local grassroots hero now.”

To nominate a football coach, club or volunteer go to www.mcdonalds.co.uk/awards

Bury Juniors FC are an FA Charter Standard Development Club and have played a part in the development of Gary, brother Phil and West Bromwich Albion centre back Craig Dawson over the last 30 years.

The club is just one of the thousands of clubs that McDonald’s and The FA has supported over the past 10 years in their bid to help young footballers shine and provide football to local communities across England.

Nominations for The FA Community Awards presented by McDonald’s are open until the 22nd March.

The eight FA Community Award categories are:

•             Outstanding Contribution to Community Football Award

•             Volunteer of the Year

•             Young Volunteer of the Year

•             Coach of the Year

•             FA Charter Standard Community Club

•             FA Charter Standard Development Club

•             FA Charter Standard Club of the Year

•             FA Charter Standard League of the Year

Published with permission from BornoffSide.

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