Meet Mairi MacKenzie
“Hi, I’m Mairi MacKenzie. I’m the Community Support Officer.”
You may have seen Mairi out and about in the community, engaging young supporters on a matchday, or delivering Physical and Mental Wellbeing groups at Rugby Park.
She has recently graduated with an Honours Degree in Sport Development from the University of the West of Scotland, and has been appointed Community Support Officer full-time with The Killie Community, but her journey started as a volunteer…
“I’m from Darvel which is a village of just over 3,000. A fraction of the size of Kilmarnock.
“If you don’t have a car, there is no train station so you have a bus into town but it can feel isolated for some. It is a really friendly town.
“Growing up, we didn’t have many opportunities to get into football. There was a couple of teams, but they folded. I chose dancing as there was a local dance class. So even now, football isn’t something I’ve had a huge interest in.”
Mairi however, has a determination to give her village, and others like it around Ayrshire, a variety of opportunities to enjoy active, healthy lifestyles.
“Things are so much better now in Darvel. Obviously, we now have a successful Killie Kickers & Kids programme, but we’ve started doing Active Travel with access to bikes and more. I’m almost jealous of what it’s like for young people now compared to my experience, but there’s still much more we can do.”
“I lost my Dad when I was 8 years old. It’s thanks to my Mum that I continued dancing and that I was able to have a strong role model in my life. She has faced so many barriers associated with being a woman and has overcome them while giving me the best possible chance at happiness.”
Going to College, earning her Scottish FA badges with Garry Hay, and going on to University has been the best decision she has made, says Mairi.
“At school, I wasn’t allowed to sit Higher P.E. The department head said I’d struggle due to my dyslexia.
“College and then Uni gave me the platform to progress and ultimately volunteer. Particularly the Sportsability programme working with young people with additional support needs.”
From volunteering at 18, to becoming the full-time Community Support Officer, Mairi, now 22, has now established strong links between the football club, the local primary schools, and the village as a whole.
Last year in and around Darvel, the charity delivered hundreds of hours of Football For All, Disney Playmakers, Hexagol sessions, as well as inviting 114 young people along to Rugby Park for their first ever matchday experience.
Mr. McIlwraith, Headteacher at Darvel Primary School said:
“Our young people benefit massively from the impact of Killie Community work here. It’s an added bonus to see this led by a familiar face around the town, and former pupil.”
Mairi says her favourite part of the job is “using the power of football to make a positive change in any person’s life. It’s so rewarding.”