IN March 2021 Albion Rovers became the first, and to date the only, club in Louth to receive the FAI One Star Club Mark.
Now the Monasterboice side are one of eight clubs on a shortlist to participate in the FAI’s pilot scheme for the Two Star Mark, with another eight to 10-month endeavour in prospect if they are selected for the programme.
The FAI Club Mark is an award based on best practice in the governance, management and administration of a football club.
The three driving forces within the club to achieve this initial accolade are club chairman Liam Callan, head of coaching Robert McQuillan and senior team manager Johnny Campbell.
Callan says that Covid provided the opportunity to put the time into actually achieving the requirements to achieve the award.
“The entry level for this is a 30-page document, outlining various aspects of the club, so we got stuck into that and straightaway we jumped onto the One Star as the FAI were pushing that,” the chairman explained.
“Off the field it’s an award for achievements in governance and best practice, and in footballing terms it makes Albion more of a player development centre,” he added.
Callan, who has been at Albion for 40 years, spoke about all the help the FAI offered the Louth side and how, of the 34 teams at Albion, 98% of them are coached by members who are at the required coaching level.
“It’s not many years ago where you got a parent in to help out and now we have 80 coaches all on the ladder.”
Former Drogheda United player Mick Neville, a long-time FAI Development Officer with Louth, was another key figure in helping Albion achieve this.
“The FAI does come in for some criticism, but the help we got, you couldn’t measure it. It was phenomenal. If we needed anything we could contact them and they would help sort it.
“They helped us across the line.”
As a result Albion have received certain rewards. They were asked to host the “Soccer Sisters” FAI Camp along with UEFA’s “Disney Playmakers” camps. They also are first choice for certain workshops which will help improve the club further.
Callan has aspirations to be in a position to send coaches into the local schools and further strengthen the link between team and community, and this path will go a long way to helping achieve that.