A community football association in Inverness has been rewarded for its hard work by attaining the Scottish Football Association’s Quality Mark Community Award.

The Merkinch Football Association, a partnership between Highland League side Clachnacuddin FC and the Merkinch Football Academy,  has set itself high standards for developing players and coaches as well as creating a pathway from grassroots all the way through to the senior game. The Scottish Football Association and High Life Highland, along with partners McDonald’s and Sportscotland have been fully committed to supporting Merkinch FA in achieving the Community Award.

The partnership between Clachnacuddin FC and Merkinch Football Academy took place to ensure that young talent from the Inverness area have the chance to progress to the next level.

John Beaton, chairman of the Merkinch Football Association said that the partnership is an “important step in the right direction in the Merkinch area” and that the scheme has “got a lot of potential”.

He also commented: “This award highlights the hard work that has been put into community football. We continue to develop young players to reach their highest level and encourage good life skills and healthy choices.”

Peter Corbett, secretary of the Merkinch Football Association, explained the work of the association. "Our partnership brings together 30 coaches who are qualified to coach nearly 300 boys and girls for football,” Corbett said.

“They also attend courses in first aid, child protection and health and safety so that youngsters play in a safe, enjoyable environment.

“Thanks must go to coach David Paulin for putting our application together to receive this award from the Scottish FA.”

Peter Budge, the Scottish FA and High Life Highland’s football development officer said, “I would like to congratulate Merkinch Football Association on attaining the highly prestigious Scottish FA Community Award.

“This partnership award is for the fantastic work that goes on behind the scenes at Clach and the Merkinch Football Academy.”

Budge also called the Merkinch FA a ‘model organisation’ for other clubs, commenting: “The Scottish FA and High Life Highland, along with Sportscotland and McDonald’s, were pleased to support the Merkinch Football Association in their efforts to attain the community award and we are absolutely delighted that they have a group of people who are making a huge contribution to football in Inverness. "This is a model organisation for other clubs to follow, and we wish them continued success in all their efforts.”

Mark Slater, the Scottish FA North Region’s Club Development Manager was delighted with the success of the Merkinch Football Association. 

“I would like to congratulate the club in what is a fantastic achievement,” he told the Scottish FA website.

“It is a great reward for the hard work that has gone into this by the two clubs to make it happen and shows what can be done when clubs come together. It creates a great opportunity and environment for players in the area to enjoy playing football.

“Merkinch Football Association now has a great set up and with a full player pathway.”