"I’m truly honoured to be the people’s champion. It’s very humbling and my greatest achievement.”
That’s how our People’s Award Winner of 2016 feels right now.
But the six tireless years Kieran Howard has pumped into Brymbo Lodge Juniors would have gone unrecognised had the players, parents, coaches and volunteers who benefit from his toil failed to nominate him a year ago.
The 31-year-old father-of-two from the tiny North Wales village of Brymbo picked up the People’s Award crown at the Welsh Community Football Awards Ceremony in Cardiff last October.
Since taking the title, the coach of the club’s U10 and U13 teams has completed his FAW C Certificate and been crowned Senior Volunteer of the Year at the Wrexham Sports Awards.
The busy shift worker for Lloyd’s Animal Feeds, said: “I feel as if I’m giving something back to the community that has given me so much. I love football and I love seeing young players develop on and off the pitch.”
“I work 12-hour shifts but I only ever miss matches if I'm working a day shift on the weekend. If I'm nights, I will get up for the kids because I don't want them to miss out.”
Back in October, Kieran was handed his award off Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs in a glitzy ceremony at the Cardiff City Stadium before Wales hosted Georgia in a World Cup qualifier.
The coach, who puts most of his success down to the support of his partner Amy, said: “It came as a complete shock.
“I was happy to win the NEWFA area award and I assumed there were five top coaches from all over Wales in front of me, so I went there just enjoy the day.
“There was drama though because the People’s Award is the only one that nobody knows the outcome of in advance.
“It was a real honour to win in a group of such talented and committed coaches. To received my award from Ryan Giggs made it extra special.”
With the nominations for the 2017 McDonald’s Welsh Community Football Awards now underway, Kieran is hoping for more success, having put his own club forward for the Club of the Year Award.
He said: “The club is 20 years old this season and we’ve only got that far thanks to the hard work of a lot of people. We are a small village but our football club has given adults and children something to be proud of.”
He said: “I am so grateful to the people who voted for me and even more so, those who nominated me because without them, the work I and everybody else involved in this club have done would never have been recognised.
“My fellow coaches Mike Wells, Rob Jones, Matthew Evans and Darren Woolrich all deserve a mention because they’re unsung heroes.
“And football is not just about coaches. Without people like our secretary Andrew Humphreys and chairman Billy Billington, we wouldn’t have a club.
“The Welsh Community Football Awards are there to recognise the tireless work of people like this so I would urge anybody involved in Welsh grassroots football to nominate somebody today.”