Banbridge Rangers have become the first football club in the ABC council area to be awarded a top IFA award.
The Club Excellence Award system was created in 2013 to recognise clubs across Northern Ireland who are well organised, have a sustainable future financially and are progressively developing local footballers for success on the field of play.
In February 2013, Banbridge Rangers were one of the first local clubs to secure the McDonalds Accreditation with the help of IFA Grassroots Officer Keith Gibson.
After very positive feedback, Rangers moved onto the IFA Club Excellence Mark which is only awarded after a club produces a portfolio before entering into a lengthy series of inspections on all aspects of the football club.
The final inspection took place at Cheney Park on Thursday 30th April with IFA Grassroots Officer Ken Duncan observing youth training sessions from the Under 7 age group through to Under 16.
Confirmation of the Award was received soon afterwards from the IFA Club & Community Development Officer Diarmuid O’Carroll.
“I am delighted to confirm that following a successful club visit by Ken Duncan, the club has officially achieved Club Excellence Mark,” he said.
“This accreditation demonstrates the high level at which Banbridge Rangers Football Club is operating at, both on and off the pitch. The club has made, and continues to make, a significant contribution towards the development of youth football in the Banbridge area.”
There are three levels of Club Excellence with a three star award designed for professional football clubs.
Now that Banbridge Rangers FC have attained one star they have their sights set on the gaining a second star as a signal of their ambitions.
“For a club who were only formed ten years ago, we have made tremendous progress to become one of the forces in Mid Ulster football,” said a club spokesperson.
“With such an extensive amount of work put into the award, it would be remiss not to thank some of the individuals and organisations for their support through the process.
“The Irish Football Association have been instrumental with Diarmuid O’Carroll, Ken Duncan and Keith Gibson worthy of individual praise.
“Banbridge Rangers would also like to express their gratitude to Banbridge Council and in particular Victor Willis for his continued support. Banbridge District Sports Association Officers Gillian Dewart and Sarah Aiken have been of great assistance to the project and have issued a grant of £250 towards equipment for achieving the award.
“Alan Curran of the Southern Sports Partnership has also helped with the process to highlight the great work that Banbridge Rangers provides to the local community.
“Banbridge Rangers Football Club would also like to put on record their sincerest thanks to Chairman John Patterson for the work behind the scenes along with all of the committee, coaches, players and parents but the award would not have been successful was it not for the committment and dedication of club Secretary Mark Wilson who was the driving force behind the Club Excellence Award.
“There are only 15 other football clubs in the whole of Northern Ireland with this award and it is a very large feather in the club’s cap.”