North Wales grassroots football heroes get their just rewards

Volunteer of the Year Gareth Rawling (right)

Three unsung heroes of North Wales sport have been recognised nationally for their amazing contributions to the community.

Gareth Rawling, Nathan Craig and Jessica Lane were all award winners at the FAW Grassroots Football Awards in Cardiff recently.

Gareth, from Llandudno, was named Volunteer of the Year.

A former footballer of some repute, when the father-of-two started coaching, there were no girls’ teams in Penrhyn Bay.

In the five years he has been involved, six girls’ sides have been created to represent the club in the North Wales League.

Gareth, who coaches at the North Wales regional and performance centre squads, is not just dedicated to coaching. He’s often found doing paperwork, fees, affiliation and organising the club’s presentation evening.

The Volunteer of the Year attended the ceremony with wife Shirley Anne and daughters Mia and Sophie, both of whom have represented their country at football. It was Mia, a player with Penrhyn Bay ladies, who nominated her dad for the prestigious award.

Nathan Craig

Nathan Craig (left) receives yet another award for his cabinet

When it comes to playing football, Nathan Craig needs no introduction.

The former Everton and Wales Under-21 midfielder also played in the Football League with Torquay United, returned to hometown club Caernarfon Town in 2014 and took on responsibility for the Canaries’ Football in the Community department.

While excelling on the field, playing in two Cymru Alliance championship-winning sides and leading the Cofis back to the Welsh Premier League after a 10 year absence, Nathan has also worked wonders in developing the junior and youth football provision at The Oval.

Club captain Craig, 28 today (October 25), was the proud winner of the FAW Trust Fun Football Provider of the Year at the McDonalds Grassroots Awards.
And the success for Caernarfon Town does not end there.

Jessica Lane

Jessica Lane (left) was named Young Volunteer of the Year for the whole of Wales

Jessica Lane, an assistant-coach to Nathan in his work at Caernarfon Town for the past five years, won the Young Volunteer of the Year award.

Already the winner of the regional prize, the 17-year-old went one better by landing the national accolade too.

During what was an unforgettable occasion for Jess, on the night she got to meet many famous faces, including Wales players past and present with the highlight being a photo taken alongside her favourite Aaron Ramsey.

Jess also plays in the North Wales Women’s Football League for a Mountain Rangers team currently doing very well in Division Two.

Gareth, Nathan and Jess take a bow! North Wales football is unbelievably proud of you.

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