CITC volunteer honoured by FA
- 10 October 2013 17:29
- Posted by @porter_mcfc
City grassroots hero Mark Smith was honoured by the FA for his outstanding contribution to football.
A volunteer with City in the Community for seven years, Mark was presented with a medal to mark his achievements in a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
“When the invite came through the post, I didn’t know what it was because no one had told me anything about it,” he explained.
“I wondered who it was for – Mark Smith is a bit of a common name, so I wondered if the FA had sent it to the wrong man!”
The event was hosted by HRH The Duke of Cambridge and formed part of the FA’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
Mark, who was nominated by CITC’s enterprise coordinator, Paul McCoy, was one of 150 volunteers being honoured at the event. Mark took Paul as his guest, and the duo had the opportunity to watch the first ever football match staged in the Buckingham Palace grounds.
“It was unbelievable day,” Mark recalled. “I received my medal from Greg Dyke and was congratulated by Prince William, who spoke to me personally and really put me at ease.
“I was in awe of the surroundings when walking around the grounds, but once the football started I was totally focused.”
He continued: “It’s been really good to be able to highlight all the good work that City in the Community do. The soccer schools that they run are all free at venues throughout Manchester and make a lot of difference to the children who attend.
“I help out every half time and in the summer holidays, working alongside coaches at the sessions. Volunteers are given the chance to take their own coaching sessions, and everyone is made to feel really welcome.”
Mark also helps out on matchdays at City Square, where CITC put on activities and bring inflatables.
“You don’t realise the different fans we get from all the world coming to the stadium, and CITC really add to their matchday experience,” he reflected. “To me the experience we have here is the best in the country, and being part of that is really special.”
Mark continues to volunteer his time with CITC, as well as helping out with training sessions for City Ladies and coaching for the Stockport Junior Blues.
“I love seeing the look on the children’s faces, and knowing that I have helped a child develop,” he said. “When I see children who I have known for four or five years and see how they have grown, both in their football skills and as a person, it’s a great feeling.
“Knowing that you’ve made someone’s life better is the real achievement.”