Sport Northern Ireland is giving the sporting community an opportunity to say “thank you” to local coaches, officials and volunteers as it opens nominations for the 2018 SportMaker Awards.

The Awards acknowledge the work of Northern Ireland’s sporting workforce and highlight the outstanding people and projects that have made a big impact over the last year.

Nominations can be made by anyone via the Sport NI website, with 12 award categories recognising achievement at all levels of sports participation, from grassroots through to high performance.

The Awards were launched by Sport NI Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown alongside a group of top coaches, including local coaches Elaine Rice (Netball NI), Stephen Maguire (British Athletics) and Paul Marshall (Instonians RFC).

Sport NI Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown commented:

“All of us working and involved in sport know that coaches, officials and volunteers play an absolutely vital role in getting people active and supporting them to pursue and achieve their sporting goals. The talent, commitment and passion of our sporting workforce here in Northern Ireland is outstanding, but because their work happens behind the scenes or off the field of play, they all too often go unnoticed. That’s why Sport NI is so delighted to be launching this year’s SportMaker Awards, providing a platform for us to recognise and celebrate the success and dedication of those who make sport happen every day, at community, club and elite level.”

Elaine Rice, Netball NI Head Coach and winner of the 2017 Sport NI award for High Performance Coach of the Year, added:

“It was a great personal honour for me to win last year and I was delighted to receive my award on behalf of Netball NI. I love my sport and I love what I do, but to be recognised by others meant such a great deal. There are so many brilliant coaches, officials and volunteers out there who deserve to be acknowledged for all the great work they are doing, and I would urge anyone who knows someone deserving of an award to make their nomination.”

Members of the public can make their nominations here

Nominations close on Friday 6 July 2018 for all categories.

Pictured at the launch: Sport NI Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown officially opens nominations for the 2018 SportMaker Awards alongside Netball NI Head Coach Elaine Rice, British Athletics Head Coach for Sprints, Hurdles and Relays Stephen Maguire and Instonian’s coach and former Ulster star Paul Marshall. They were joined by some of the coaches participating in the Irish FA’s coach education programme – Northern Ireland international Chris Brunt, Canadian international and Olympic bronze medallist Carmelina Moscato and former Premier League footballers Joleon Lescott, Richard Dunne, Ricardo Carvalho and Tiago Mendes.