SUFFOLK FA’s Kirsty Smith said she was ‘over the moon’ after winning a prestigious award.
Kirsty, who is Suffolk FA Football Development Officer (Growth), led on the Refugee Project that was named winner of the Innovative Project of the Year Award at the Active Suffolk Awards 2022.
More than 200 guests attended a glittering ceremony at Trinity Park on the outskirts of Ipswich on Friday evening when the 12 category winners were announced.
Suffolk FA’s Refugee Project was shortlisted for the award, which was sponsored by the University of Suffolk, alongside the YMCA Trinity UASC Sports Project and the ActiveLives, ActivSport Project.
The accolade came just two weeks after Kirsty’s project was shortlisted at The FA’s County FA Recognition Awards at Wembley Stadium.
Kirsty (pictured above) set up and delivered the Refugee Project which saw refugees in Suffolk provided with football kit and boots from Boots2Africa, and matches arranged for them to play in.
There then followed a Football Welcomes Refugees’ Festival on the 3G pitch at Needham Market FC as part of Amnesty International’s Football Welcomes Month.
After collecting the award Kirsty said: “I am absolutely over the moon to win this award tonight as I really wasn’t expecting it!
“Just to be shortlisted was an honour and anyone of the incredible nominations were deserving to win the award, so I truly am proud to come away with this tonight.
“This project is exactly why I love my job and there’s no greater feeling than using football to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
“No-one gets involved in football or delivers projects for awards, we do it because it is the right thing to do. However, to be nominated, shortlisted and win such prestigious awards like this is fantastic and greatly appreciated!
“This project really was a team effort, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my colleagues and all the other partners/local organisations and volunteers who supported the event.
“A special shout out to Martin Taylor, who played a huge part in getting this going, and for providing access for the refugees to football at every opportunity. Without you, this project wouldn’t be what it is, so I want to say thank you to you for that!
“It was an unbelievable night to be part of, so thank you to Active Suffolk for such a special evening and hopefully this is just the start of things to come.”
Suffolk Chair Phil Lawler, who attended along with members of Suffolk FA staff, said: “We are very, very proud of what Kirsty has achieved in delivering football and social opportunities to the Refugee community in Suffolk.
“We are grateful for the support we received from our partners and agencies that enabled this project to happen.
“And thanks go to the Suffolk FA staff who have supported Kirsty on this project.”
Needham Market FC were shortlisted in the Team of the Year Award which was won by the Suffolk Women's Cricket team.
Being shortlisted was a 'huge honour'