Glasgow community volunteers collect National Grassroots football award

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The awards recognise and celebrate the volunteers who dedicate countless hours to inspire those in the grassroots football community

Gary Ruddy, George McGowan and the Partick Thistle Charitable Trust (PTCT) were named the national winner of the prestigious Best Volunteer in Youth Football, Merit Award and Best Para Football Project award respectively at the 2023 SFA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards ceremony.

The awards - now in their eleventh year - took place at Hampden Park on October 31 to recognise and celebrate the incredible volunteers who dedicate countless hours to inspire those in the grassroots football community. Gary, George and PTCT joins long list of inspirational grassroots football heroes who have been recognised by the programme.

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Ruddy, the dedicated force behind Whitacre’s Community Academy (Wolves), is a beacon of passion and enthusiasm in ensuring that young people have the opportunity to play the beautiful game in a safe, fun, and inclusive environment.

The award winners alongside ambassadors and Scottish National Team legends, James McFadden and Jen Beattie.The award winners alongside ambassadors and Scottish National Team legends, James McFadden and Jen Beattie.
The award winners alongside ambassadors and Scottish National Team legends, James McFadden and Jen Beattie.

He recently orchestrated a Fun Day for local children, with proceeds supporting the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) charity. Moreover, he’s facilitated Whitacre’s Wolves coaches to volunteer their expertise, offering free sessions for school children in both mainstream and ASN schools. During term time, he coordinates Health Week football programs in schools, continually collaborating with local educational institutions to ensure that Whitacre’s Wolves provides valuable services to all children, regardless of their ability, gender, race, colour, or ethnicity.

McGowan, President of Glasgow Deaf Athletic FC, grew up as a young deaf boy in mainstream football, he discovered his passion for deaf football at the age of 15. From 1991 to 2004, George played for Glasgow Deaf and St Vincent Deaf, witnessing the challenges faced by deaf teams over the years.

Today, as the leader of Glasgow Deaf Athletic - a club established in 1871 - older than the Scottish FA itself, George has been instrumental in preserving the legacy of this historic team. He is dedicated to promoting deaf football in Glasgow and has even produced a documentary to raise awareness about their 152-year-old club.

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McGowan’s commitment ensures the future of deaf community football in Glasgow, embodying the spirit of the sport and its heritage.

Partick Thistle Charitable Trust (PTCT) is a beacon of inclusivity, striving to create opportunities where they are needed most. This extraordinary organization opens doors for all, embracing individuals with a diverse range of disabilities, including learning difficulties, autism, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome. Participants flock from across the nation to engage in PTCT’s diverse para-football programs, transcending limitations and fostering a familial atmosphere that extends beyond the playing field.

Scottish FA and McDonald’s Grassroots ambassador Jen Beattie said: “Grassroots football and the many volunteers are the life blood of our nations game. I’m so proud to be here in Glasgow to honour these incredible winners. Volunteers like George, Gary and PTCT are a testament to their community and an inspiration to those looking to get involved in the grassroots game. The SFA & McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards are a special occasion and a chance to show how grateful we are to the hours of dedication volunteers put in to make football what it is.”

Local McDonald’s Franchisee Andy Gibson is an avid supporter of grassroots football in the Glasgow area, he added: “We are immensely proud to have Grassroots Football Award winners from Glasgow, Gary, George and the Partick Thistle Charitable Trust have shown amazing dedication to keeping the spirit of grassroots football alive and thoroughly deserve this award. It’s great to see all of the winners celebrated at the national ceremony – they are truly the heart and soul of the grassroots game.”

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McDonald’s is the longest-standing supporter of grassroots football in the UK, having celebrated Grassroots Heroes at the Grassroots Football Awards for 21 years. In addition to championing local grassroots heroes. Over the past year, 250,000 children enjoyed free football thanks to McDonald’s, and will continue to grow year on year.

For further information on McDonald’s involvement in grassroots football and to find out how your club could benefit visit

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