18-year-old Anna Pim has not only had a successful season on the hockey pitch, but also off it by claiming the Sport NI SportMaker Project of the Year award.

This award celebrates a project/programme which uses high quality coaching, officiating and/or volunteering as a means of enabling more people to benefit from the power of sport.

Her project ‘At the Heart of the Game’ has trained over 300 young people across Northern Ireland with the lifesaving skills of CPR and how to use an AED (defibrillator).

Anna has combined her passion off the pitch for raising awareness of CPR with incredible success on it. Whilst travelling around the country to provide the training she studied for AS Levels, captained her school to Ulster and All Ireland Hockey Cup success, was selected to play for Ulster U18′s and captained Ireland U18′s.

On receiving her award Anna said: “It is a nice surprise and it’s great to see people recognizing the work I’ve done over the past couple of years.

“When I was 13 one of my friends had a cardiac arrest and I remember thinking if I was there would I have had the knowledge to perform CPR. I reflected on this during the COVID-19 lockdown and thought how could I combine my love for Hockey and my interest in St John’s Ambulance. It all came together and that’s how Heart of the Game was born.”

This experience at the age of 13 led Anna in focusing the ‘Heart of the Game’ project to those in the Under 13 age groups within twenty hockey clubs.

The SportMaker team surprised Anna at a midweek training session with Pegasus Hockey Club. Club Captain, Ruth McCandless was inspired by her whole story: “I’m not surprised it’s won project of the year, it’s a brilliant idea. It is so inspiring, and I think it’s so good for everyone to get involved. Pegasus as a club can be very proud of her.

“If that was to happen to me on the pitch I wouldn’t know what to do never mind somebody younger. To target a younger age group so that they have that knowledge growing up is unbelievable.”

The Heart of the Game has had backing from Ireland Hockey International Dr Shirley McCay MBE, Olympic Gold Medalist Lady Mary Peters, Ulster Hockey, St John’s Ambulance and Belfast City Airport.

This support is now helping Anna to expand the programme, she said: “I’ve secured Belfast City Airport as a partner who have given me funds to secure AED trainers which I will place in local St John’s Ambulance cadet divisions.

“This in turn will train more people in communities so that if someone has a cardiac arrest, more people will be able to be confident in using a defibrillator and perform CPR.”

Anna concluded: “The goal is increasing the numbers of people who are trained in the CPR and AED and it is literally priceless knowing how to save a life.”

Antoinette McKeown, Sport NI Chief Executive, congratulated Anna on her award: “Our SportMaker Awards celebrate the unsung sporting heroes. Anna fits this perfectly as although she is a star on the hockey pitch, she’s also one off the pitch.

“Sport is more than about the ability to play. It’s also about bringing people together to learn skills that help us in our day-to-day life which is what Anna’s project has done.

“Anna has shown dedication and commitment in setting up Heart of the Game by putting her spare time and energy into educating young people with lifesaving skills and is an incredible role model to all of those she has encountered.

“Congratulations Anna – you are a SportMaker!”

The Sport NI SportMaker Awards give the sporting community the opportunity to showcase their achievements and give special thanks to coaches, officials and volunteers who work hard behind the scenes to make sport happen. There are 12 award categories recognising achievement at all levels of sports participation, from grassroots through to high performance.