Wide-ranging progress in Cumnock’s grassroots football was celebrated at the recent Scottish FA South West Quality Mark Awards, held at Kilmarnock’s Park Hotel. The Development Award is in recognition of the progress made in coach development and in enhancing community access to football in the local area.

The award also recognises the close co-operation between Cumnock Juniors F.C and Cumnock Youth Football Club. In 2012 Cumnock Juniors Community Enterprise was formed as an umbrella organisation for all the local football clubs to work together for community football development.

Derek King, Coach Co-ordinator at Cumnock Youth Football Club, says achieving Quality Mark status has helped the club to progress its football coaching.

He said: “Over the last few years I think the Quality Mark has helped us to improve the club.

“We’ve built a pathway for football from kids as young as five or six years old all the way through to Under 19s. The Quality Mark pushed us to getting more kids in and more coaches with qualifications to get the whole set up in place.

“Through the Scottish FA we also have access to plenty of coaching days, coaching courses. You can pick up the phone to them any time.”

Former Queens Park and Cumnock Juniors player Adam Watt has been able to go on to attain his coaching badges and coach his local team. He says the award shows the club’s strong community spirit, saying “It’s been great to come back to my local team to play and coach.”

“We’ve won the Scottish Cup a few times and it’s a great town, the fans are very supportive every week. Cumnock Juniors is a great thing to showcase to visitors about what’s best in the area.”

Eric Bennett, Trustee of Cumnock Juniors Community Enterprise, says progress towards the award has been achieved on two fronts.

He said: “We have progressed on the football front, in terms of coach development, and also on the community side which is a big part of it. We have introduced disability football and girls’ football for ages five to twelve years old and we’ve got big plans to expand that in the community.”

“We were formed in 2012 as a charity, as an umbrella for all the football clubs, including Cumnock Juniors, to combine the resources for the good of the community.”

“Through the Quality Mark we have an actual structured framework, with priorities we’ve got to achieve in terms of coach development. So it’s a real progression of football through the ages.”