Sport Northern Ireland has announced the full list of winners for the 2017 Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering Awards. Thirteen winners were chosen by the judging panel following an excellent response from the public, who nominated coaching projects from an array of different sports and levels of participation. 2017 marks the fourth year of the Sport NI Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering Awards, which celebrate outstanding coaches and coaching projects which have made a big impact over the last 12 months.

The winners of the 2017 Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering Awards are listed below.

Talent Development Coach of the Year
Niall Wilkinson

“Niall has invested heavily in his own and his athlete’s development and displays the type of leadership that Athletics NI like to see from coaches. He is humble, hard-working, meticulous in his planning and has developed a great working relationship with key support personnel who provide strength and conditioning and physiotherapy.”


REACH – Supporting Women in Coaching
Nadia McAleavey
Dynamic Gymnastics

 “Nadia is a credit to Dynamic Gymnastics Club. She has achieved so much in the short space of time. Nadia would be overwhelmed at being nominated, and truly humbled and honoured to win this award.  I know she is very modest person at what she has accomplished this year.  To win this award would show the gymnastics community what she does behind the scenes and recognise her as a great role model and gymnastics ambassador for our gymnasts, young leaders and our coaches.”

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Community Coach of the Year
Matt Shields
North Belfast Harriers

“Matt has demonstrated tremendous commitment to his local community and leadership in introducing new opportunities for people to get active. Through his efforts, he is helping to engage young people in athletics in a way that is accessible and tailored to them. The phenomenal success of Park Run and Jog Belfast Couch to 5K programme demonstrate the success of his work. Sport NI knows the vital role coaches play in creating opportunities to help everyone here enjoy, engage and excel in sport, regardless of experience or ability. The Sport NI Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering awards are about celebrating the outstanding coaching talent and spirit that exists in Northern Ireland. Matt is a clear example of this, and on behalf of Sport NI I congratulate him on his award, and wish him continued coaching success in the future.”

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Young Coach of the Year
Ciaran Chambers
Ulster Badminton

“As a young, passionate coach, Ciaran shows badminton in the best possible light, and his professionalism and dedication to the sport and to coaching, ensure that each player he works with have a rewarding and enjoyable experience. From young players to masters, Ciaran is making an impact right across the sport on a weekly basis”


Technical Official of the Year
Robin Gray
Ballyholme Yacht Club

The staff and board of RYANI would like to put Robin forward for recognition of the time and effort that he has put into race management that has come on leaps and bounds over recent years thanks to the effort that Robin has put in – he is known through the province and beyond for his professionalism and, knowledge and supportive approach”

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Volunteer of the Year
Gerard O’Neill
Clonoe O’Rahilly

Gerard is a tremendous man, not only does he help out at the matches but he also sells the club lottery tickets as well as supporting at fundraising events, all whilst holding down a full time job. He’s always spotted out and about the town wearing the club merchandise and everyone knows him. There are approximately 330 players in the Clonoe O’Rahilly’s club and it’s remarkable that he knows all their names. Everyone in our club has the utmost respect for this man. There is no one else in the club who volunteers as much time to Clonoe O’Rahilly’s Gerard is a member of the deaf community and does not speak, but he doesn’t let his disability hold him back. Even though, his communication is affected, he is still able to communicate with both the young and the old, through his passion for sport.”

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Young Volunteer of the Year
Erin Getty
Randalstown Ladies Hockey Club

“Erin Getty is a true definition of a club member. She is role model for all players, young and old, within Randalstown Ladies Hockey Club. Despite her demanding schedule which includes weekend representative hockey, training, studying for A-Levels and football training, she always finds time for the club. I believe there is no-one more deserving than Erin for the Young Volunteer of the Award. Her passion and dedication to hockey in all its forms be it playing, coaching, umpiring or spectating are second to none.”


High Performance Coach of the Year
Elaine Rice
Northern Ireland Netball

Elaine has had a massive impact on the Senior Squad since taking over, providing challenging, enjoyable sessions that draw out the experience of the older players but also allow the less experienced to develop and learn. It is difficult to manage the senior squad given that so many of the players have additional family or work commitments or live overseas. However, Elaine has been able to put together a programme that maintains the intensity required to push the squad on as a whole as well as recognising the commitments particular squad members have.”

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Coaching Project of the Year
Simply Judo Connects Belfast

“The Sport NI COV Awards are designed to highlight the outstanding coaching talent that exists across Northern Ireland, and celebrate the great coaching work being done to help communities participate in sport. Simply Judo Connects is an outstanding example of this. This unique project is bringing children and families from war-torn countries and helping them integrate and engage with the community through the discipline of judo. Not only that, it is offering them support, stability and engagement and an opportunity to interact with local children and make new friends. This project dissolves ethnic barriers and welcomes participation from all cultures to enjoy, engage and excel in sport.”


Children’s Coach of the Year
Bridgeen Byrne
Mini-Spartans, Derry

“Bridgeen is changing the world for the better. She is an everyday woman who is transforming the lives of young people through athletics. She has dedicated her life to the Mini-Spartans, through her inexhaustible drive and commitment to her philosophy ‘the more you give the more you get”.


Club Performance Coach of the Year
Mark Tumility
Banbridge Hockey Club

Mark has been instrumental in producing a side that ended the season as double Irish Champions and competed at the highest level of Club hockey in Europe – EHL. The side have been complimented on their fast attacking style of which has resulted in a well-deserved success on the hockey pitch. Mark is an extremely dedicated coach, putting in many hours each week of coaching to ensure that the team have the best training opportunities provided”

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Disability Coach of the Year
Stephanie Martin
Rathgael Gymnastics Club

“Stephanie has a passion to break down barriers to ensure that we can deliver gymnastics to those who need just a little bit more time or a quieter place. As Stephanie gains confidence in herself and her team, she will continue to highlight how truly accessible are beloved sport can be to everyone within Rathgael Gymnastics Club and in Northern Ireland”.


Adam Brown
Young Technical Official of the Year
Table Tennis Ulster

“Sport NI is delighted to be presenting this award to Adam and to celebrate his contribution to Table Tennis Ulster. Officials are at the heart of making sport happen and providing the opportunities for people to compete and enjoy sport. Adam stands out from the crowd in his umpiring role. His commitment to developing his experience and technical knowledge is commendable, and is reflected in his many accomplishments as an official. I congratulate Adam on this COV Award and thank him for his contribution to local sport.”

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