Ali was nominated for the 49th Annual Torch Trophy Trust awards by the Manchester United Foundation and the Premier League, for his work on projects in Manchester, Salford and Trafford which encourage more youngsters into sport.
Whilst at the event, Ali met with Torch Trophy Trust ambassadors Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra and Sir Bobby Charlton. He was subsequently invited to Manchester United’s training ground in Carrington to meet midfielder Nani and talk to the United star about his achievements.
“The Princess was really nice,” Ali commented. “Some of the people who were at the ceremony were amazing; the things they have done for their sport are so brilliant. It has shown me that greatness comes from dedication, hard work and a true passion for sport.
“Volunteering has opened up so many opportunities for me – I have travelled, met celebrities and gained experience that I would never have got if I hadn’t worked on these projects. It’s also shown me that somebody having belief in you can push you to work and achieve beyond your normal standards. Without the belief of my mentors I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
One of those mentors is Foundation Football Development Officer Ben Charlton who has worked with Ali on the Foundation’s Kickz project. He said:
“Ali first joined Kickz as a playing participant but he soon became involved in planning and delivering coaching sessions. Amongst his many contributions he has helped to arrange competitions and tournaments, organised residential trips and fundraised for the local community centre. His motivation, dedication and eagerness to get involved have helped him to showcase his skills and develop as a sports coach. He is a role model to the local children in his community and the impact he has made thoroughly deserves this recognition.”
19 year old Ali, who was the youngest entrant at the award ceremony, has given up over 600 hours of his time mainly to the Foundation’s Kickz project, which aims to create safer, stronger communities through the power of football. Through the programme he has undergone training and taken qualifications, which most recently included a Level 2 coaching award.