A PASSIONATE volunteer at Malvern Town FC has won the opportunity of a lifetime for his outstanding efforts at his local non-league club.

Josh Moorhouse, an economics graduate from Malvern, only started volunteering at Malvern Town Football Club last July and has been named the Pitching In Volunteer of the Season.

The prize will see Moorhouse, 22, travel to Dublin for the UEFA Europa League final, with flights, two nights’ accommodation, a training session with legendary footballers Robert Pires and Diego Forlan, and the opportunity to play on the Dublin Stadium pitch, all part of a momentous trip.

“It’s an absolutely brilliant opportunity and from all the information I’ve received, it sounds like a once in a lifetime football opportunity and I can’t wait to go out there,” said Moorhouse.

“I’ve not played a football game in quite a few years which is why I like to stay behind the touchline but I can’t wait for what’s in store in Dublin.

“I was at home studying for my accountancy qualifications when I got a text from the chairman saying congratulations.

“I had no idea what he was on about and then he forwarded me the email, I was pretty shocked.

“I remember our secretary saying he had nominated me, I knew it was a shot in the dark but never thought it would be me who won, so to get the news through was brilliant.”

Moorhouse first volunteered with the hope of assisting on the financial side of the club to help advance his accountancy career.  

His remit has widened as the season has progressed, even filling in for the club kitman on occasions, and he now is urging everyone to get stuck in at their local club.

“This season has been one huge learning curve for me,” said Moorhouse, who studied at the University of York.

“I’ve tried to throw myself into lots of different things and I know I can take the skills into helping the club develop for years to come but also into my personal life.

“If people have a local club and there is an opportunity to get involved I would definitely encourage them to do it, you never know where it’s going to take you.

“The satisfaction you get from being a part of an operation like this is massive.”

Pitching In, Entain's grassroots sport Investment programme and sponsor of the Trident Leagues, launched the award to celebrate the thousands of volunteers across the country who dedicate their time to supporting grassroots and non-elite football.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of community football, helping with everything from matchday activities such as manning the turnstiles, stewarding, and catering, to pitch maintenance, ground upkeep or providing administrative and professional support.

Pitching In created the Volunteer Hub to help connect clubs looking for volunteers and fans looking for opportunities to do more – and are now saying thank you to an individual from each of the Trident Leagues and award them with a prize of a lifetime.

Moorhouse, who admits he isn’t much of a footballer, is relishing the prospect of lining up alongside household names like Forlan and Reyes on the Dublin Stadium pitch the day after the final. 

With a trip to the Premier League Darts final at London’s O2 Arena planned later on Thursday evening, Moorhouse cannot wait to experience a whirlwind few days of top-class sport.

“I think Robert Pires and Diego Forlan have roughly 200 international caps between them so that’s hugely exciting to be able to play and learn a bit from them,” Moorhouse added.

“It’ll be great to also have a look around Dublin, I know what a great city it is and to watch the final live will be hugely exciting with a brilliant atmosphere. 

“To play on the pitch at a 50,000-seater stadium and have a look round and take it all in will be pretty cool as well.

“To be recognised with this prize is amazing and pretty humbling.”

Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: https://entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/ and to find volunteering opportunities near you, see: pitchinginvolunteers.co.uk