Express & Star

Teenager whose football career was cruelly cut short by injury wins top FA award for coaching girls team

An inspirational Kidderminster teenager, whose football career was cruelly ended through injury, has been named Worcestershire FA Young Volunteer of the Year for her dedication to coaching.

Grace with her award

At just 16, Baxter College student Grace Gallagher-Kennett took a new team of under 10 girls from beginners to cup finalists in their first season with Kidderminster Lions.

Her skills and commitment shone through and parents were quick to nominate her for the award with a host of glowing testimonies.

They described her as amazing, confident, mature, caring and passionate, a fantastic coach, who takes everything in her stride and ensures the girls are happy.

One parent said: “Our girls never want to miss a training session or match due to the encouragement and passion Grace spreads through the team. She is a rising star.”

Another added: “Grace puts a smile on everyone’s face. She is so encouraging and the girls love playing for her.”

Grace, who also teaches football to Year 7s at Baxter College and to local Brownies, where she is a young leader, said: “To be shortlisted and to attend the awards’ night was great, so to win was just amazing and to read the parents’ comments was overwhelming.”

The diagnosis of a hip problem for the Harriers and West Bromwich Academy winger meant Grace could no longer play the game she loved, but when coaching was suggested as an alternative she jumped at the chance and took on the u10s last July.

Now aged 17, and studying PE, applied science and business in sixth form, the Year 12 student added: "I hope to go on to study coaching and management at the University Campus of Football Business based at the iconic Wembley stadium."

Liz Spare, head of Baxter College sixth form, said: “Grace shows the same community spirit that earned her this award in sixth form, often supporting lessons of younger students and recently organising an end of year celebration for her own year group. We are so proud of her – she is a shining example of the Baxter Way and a superb role model.”

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