Mary Russell School and St Mirren Football club have scooped a top prize at Renfrewshire Council’s annual Quality Awards 2011. The Awards ceremony at Paisley’s Town Hall recognises good work in Renfrewshire for Education & Leisure Services.

The “Partnership Award” was in acknowledgment of the club and school teaming up in a bid to fire youngsters at the school on a path to football glory, as Mary Russell take part in it’s first ever campaign in the new Regional Learning Disabilities Schools League.

In partnership with the Scottish FA, the club were able to fund a coach, Craig Rowan, for the full term time at two sessions per week, donate training and playing kit, as well as ensure the team travel in style by bussing the players to monthy league fixtures at Toryglen Football Centre.

Susannah Pietryga, Disability Active Schools Co-ordinator for Renfrewshire said : “Having the key Renfrewshire partners committed to supporting this porgramme ensures that Mary Russell’s schools football team’s talented young athletes have the best opportunities available to train, compete and reach their full potential.

St Mirren community coach Gary Hocknull said: “A big contribution has also been made from the Scottish FA and Active Schools, and we’re delighted for those taking part that this is now an award winning programme ! The boys really enjoy training and enjoy the matchday format which is very much down to St Mirren coach Craig Rowan’s enthusiasm and expertise.”

Principal Teacher at Mary Russell, Liam Coyle commented : "Through the sustained input of high quality coaching and skills development provided by St Mirren our school has managed to maximise the potential of all the footballers in the school. This raising of the skill base has allowed us to compete effectively at a Divisional level in the SFA league. The knock on effect in terms of the self esteem and enjoyment for the children has been fantastic. Thank you St Mirren."

Liam and the players from the squad will all be in attendance at St Mirren’s SPL home game versus Dunfermline this Saturday afternoon.