Technical Official of the Year – Gary Stoops (Swim Ulster)

From parent volunteer to one of the leading swimming officials in Ireland, Gary Stoops has been named Technical Official of the Year in Sport NI’s annual SportMaker awards.

Gary is the most senior swimming official in Ireland, with over 12 years of experience at all levels of competitions. He is a member of the LEN (European Swimming League) European Technical Swimming Committee and has raised the standard of Swim Ulster competitions to world-class.

Young Coach of the Year – Jenny Bell (Limavady CRFHC)

23-year-old Jenny Bell, U16s Girls Rugby Coach & Senior Women’s Coach at Limavady Cricket, Rugby Football and Hockey Club has been named Sport NI SportMaker Young Coach of the Year.

Clearly passionate about the women’s game, Jenny has played an integral part of building the new women’s section at Limavady, both on the pitch and at committee level, and is committed to inspire more females to get involved in the sport.

Disability Coach of the Year – Ged Irwin (Lisburn Distillery FC)

There were celebrations at Lisburn Distillery FC recently when Ged Irwin received the prestigious SportMaker Disability Coach of the Year award.  

Ged has been involved with Lisburn Distillery since 1992 and established the Special Educational Needs (SEN) team within the club. Lisburn Distillery now has three teams playing in Irish FA Disability league with some success.  

Children’s Coach of the Year – Sabrina Higgins (Carrickfergus Rugby Club)

Carrickfergus Rugby Coach Sabrina Higgins has been named Sport NI’s SportMaker Children’s Coach of the Year.

Sabrina coaches the U14s, U16s and U18s, holding training sessions twice a week with matches on a Sunday. She also goes into local schools to run girls’ rugby after school programmes to encourage more girls to give rugby a try and it’s working, with youth girl numbers up to a record high in the club.

Performance Pathway Coach of the Year – David Carleton (Salto Gymnastics Club)

Salto Gymnastics Coach David Carleton has been named Sport NI’s SportMaker Performance Pathway Coach of the Year.

The Head Performance Squad Coach has catapulted several gymnasts in their careers with six members representing Gymnastics Ireland and 10 athletes currently in the Northern Ireland development squad. Three of David’s gymnasts were also selected to represent Northern Ireland at the Northern European Championships.

Young Volunteer of the Year – Tom Kearney (Phoenix Basketball Club)

Phoenix Basketball Club Coach Tom Kearney has been named Sport NI’s SportMaker Young Volunteer of the Year.

Tom has been coaching for three years and works with the Phoenix Basketball Junior Squads. The young volunteer gained his refereeing qualification in the 2022-23 season and has also qualified as a table officiator.

As well as volunteering within the club, Tom is also part of the newly formed Youth Forum to gather opinions and has undertaken several roles within Basketball NI.

Young Technical Official of the Year – Orla Donnelly (Ulster Camogie)

Derrylaughan Kevin Barrys GAC member Orla Donnelly has been named Sport NI’s SportMaker Young Technical Official of the Year.

Orla began officiating Camogie at club level but is now a regular at provincial and national fixtures, becoming an inspiring role model for young women in the sport.

Project of the Year – Futsal For All (Omagh Futsal Club)

Omagh and Fermanagh’s Futsal for All has been named Project of Year in Sport NI’s SportMaker awards. 

Futsal for All started as a men’s only team but has rapidly expanded providing over 850 participants across various age groups, gender, and ethnic minorities with free access to sport.

Club Performance Coach of the Year – Derek Hollands (Enniskillen Royal Boat Club)

Royal Enniskillen Boat Club coach Derek Holland has been awarded the Sport NI SportMaker Club Performance Coach of the Year in recognition of his work with local athletes.

The former Olympian has been helping athletes achieve their dreams on the water over many years, with two graduates, Irish Rowers Nathan Timoney and Ross Corrigan, recently booking a spot for the Irish Men’s Pairs boat at Paris 2024 and became the first heavyweight Irish rowers to win World Championship medals.

Community Coach of the Year – Jahswill Emmanuel BEM (Multi-Ethnic Sports and Cultures NI)

Jahswill Emmanuel BEM has been named the Sport NI SportMaker Community Coach of the Year in recognition of his work encouraging people of all backgrounds and abilities to participate in sport.

Jahswill founded Multi-Ethnic Sports and Cultures NI (MSCNI) in 2016 to encourage sports participation for all marginalised groups including youth, women, asylum seekers and refugees from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Volunteer of the Year – Rachel Nixon (Royal Yachting Association NI)

Royal Yachting Association volunteer Rachel Nixon has been named Sport NI’s SportMaker Volunteer of the Year.

Rachel plays a key role in the Royal Yachting Association’s Women on Water programme which was established to help with gender parity across the sport.

As part of the working group, Rachel has helped organise several Women on Water festivals which provide women with the opportunity and a welcoming environment to get out on the water and try their hand at sailing.