Ammar Ashraf has turned his passion into a career after landing the Local Hero prize at the 2016 Sunday Mail sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards.
East Renfrewshire Cricket Club, previously Hamilton Cricket Club, originally catered for adult players only but Ammar was the driving force for change and inclusion.
He was recently appointed Cricket Scotland’s community engagement coordinator following his success of growing membership at East Renfrewshire CC by about 30 per cent.
He said: “I have managed to start four or five years ago on a journey, not knowing where it was going, I just had a passion and a lot of enthusiasm. It’s great, I wake up every day with a smile on my face and don’t have any problems going to work. It’s all about cricket, which is what I love.
“For me, winning the award was an absolutely amazing experience. It’s not only had an impact on me but it’s impacted on my entire family too. They are all very proud.
"It’s made me a much more positive person and has given me much more resilience.
“I would 101 per cent recommend putting someone forward for an award if you think they deserve it. The impact that has on the person, even if they are nominated, is massive. It’s a national award and making it to the latter stages is an achievement in itself.
“It meant an awful lot in terms of being recognised. I wasn’t a big fan of recognition before but I think what it has done has given me a renewed energy for the club. It’s basically revitalised me as a person and my vision for where the club is going and how we go about it.
“It is crucially important that the people who work and volunteer for the club are recognised and rewarded whenever they can be. The way I looked at it was if I can win that award there are another three or four people at our club that could have.”
Ammar coordinated a move to Woodfarm Playing Fields, where East Renfrewshire CC have now signed a 31-year lease and the extensive youth programme continues through the winter months with indoor activities at Barrhead Foundry.
Multi-talented Ammar plays a wide range of roles at the club – everything from junior convener to fundraiser, development officer, groundsman and driver.
He organises the coaching structure, ensuring all coaches and volunteers have appropriate certification up to UKCC Level 2, Positive Coaching Scotland and child protection training.
He said: "We have now reached over 100 members, so there has been a big recruitment drive. There has also been a huge push with our coaching programme and we are now covering more schools.
“There is a really diverse range of participants. They come from all different backgrounds, that’s why I love cricket so much. It brings people together from all walks of life, colours, religion, it brings them all together under the umbrella of cricket. It’s really satisfying to be a part of it.”
Jane Leavey, sportscotland Partnership Manager for East Renfrewshire, said: “It is fantastic that Ammar Ashraf is being recognised for the great work he undertakes for sport in the community.
“The commitment that he has shown to East Renfrewshire Cricket Club is second to none. In addition, Ammar greatly supports the Barrhead community sport hub, one of six hubs in East Renfrewshire. The hub is committed to inclusive participation in sport and now has over 1,400 members, 51% of which are female.”
Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland, added: “Right across the country there are committed volunteers who give their time and energy to sporting organisations and their efforts have an inspirational effect.
Do you know a Local Hero with an inspirational story? Nominate them for the 2017 Local Hero award
"Ammar Ashraf is a true inspiration and his work at East Renfrewshire Cricket Club, where he has established strong community links and created an environment where kids can participate and progress in cricket all year round, is exemplary.
“His work is an inspiration to us all and his efforts should be celebrated.”
Find out more
Everything you need to know about the 2017 Sunday Mail sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards.