A FORTH VALLEY sports coach has won an award for her work in supporting girls' and women's football.

Chelsea Raymond received the prize for Best Volunteer in Girls' or Women's Football at the SFA's Grassroots Awards at Hampden Park last month.

Recognised for her exemplary commitment to women's football in Scotland, Chelsea has an impressive record of local service to community football, surpassing all expectations.

Chelsea, a PhD candidate at Stirling University, has recently been looking at girl's experiences in recreational football around Alloa and Tullibody.

She also coaches Dunblane Girls, runs the Lee Alexander Soccer Centre in Stirling for girls aged from five to 12, and coaches disability adult football at Stirling Milton All-Stars.

Chelsea said: "It feels amazing to win the award. It was an absolute shock to be nominated, let alone to win a regional, and then a national award.

"I think recognition of any type is the last thing individuals involved in the grassroots game expects, so it's really quite special.

"This award has really motivated me to continue getting out to local clubs and to enhance my existing projects."

Chelsea came to the University of Stirling from New York to begin her Masters degree in 2016 and has been heavily involved with girls football ever since.

Football is her passion and she says it's fantastic that she can combine playing and coaching with her research.

Her PhD research area relates to girls' experiences of recreation and the potential of sport for positive change in society.

She has seen first hand how much the kids enjoy playing football but she also recognises the extra benefits that playing can bring.

Chelsea said: "Football can play a huge role in the development of girls on and off the pitch.

"In a safe, supportive and challenging environment, girls can learn important leadership, social and emotional skills that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives."

She added that the award has really motivated her to continue getting out to local clubs and to work even harder with her ongoing projects.

As well as the professional impact she has had on the girls she has worked with, she hopes she has influenced them on a personal level.

"Girls face really unique challenges as they reach puberty," she said, " I think that football can be a really powerful tool in helping them gain confidence in understanding and using their developing bodies."

Keith Brown, MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, was at Hampden with Chelsea for the award ceremony last month.

He said: "Chelsea is an outstanding role model for football and sport in Scotland and I was honoured to be able to celebrate her success with her.

"Her work locally with grassroots football is exemplary and it is only right to see that recognised.

"I wish her continued success with her PhD at the University of Stirling."