Bridgeen Byrne, a coach with the City of Derry Spartans Athletics Club, has been named Children’s Coach of the Year at the 2017 Sport Northern Ireland Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering (COV) Awards.

Bridgeen was presented with the award in recognition of her work over the last three years, during which time she has helped increase participation at the club from only 20 children to almost 200 children aged from 8-13 years.

In her role, Bridgeen has nurtured and coached All Ireland and Provincial champions at underage level through the Mini-Spartans initiative, including Derry footballer Oisin Duffy and schoolboy Finn O’Neill who won first place in the 2017 N.I. Boys’ Cross Country Final. She has also established a club that is welcoming and caters for everyone, including children and young people from different backgrounds, cultural identities and abilities.

The Sport NI award follows on from Bridgeen being named Female Coach of the Year at the Derry and Strabane Sport Awards in June of this year

The Children’s Coach of the Year award recognises the outstanding contribution of a children’s coach to the development of young people’s skills, understanding, enjoyment and lifestyle through sport. It was presented to Bridgeen on Tuesday (14th November) by Sport Northern Ireland‘s Michael Cooke.

Martina McCafferty, a member of the club said:

“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’”.

Congratulating Bridgeen on her award, Sport NI Chair George Lucas said:

“The Sport NI COV Awards are designed to highlight the outstanding talent that exists across Northern Ireland’s sporting workforce, and celebrate the great work local sportmakers are doing to help communities enjoy, engage and excel in sport. Bridgeen has made an extremely positive impact over the past three years by providing opportunities, expertise and support that has not only helped young people get involved in athletics, but also developed and nurtured new talent to achieve sporting success. On behalf of Sport NI, I would like to congratulate Bridgeen on her richly deserved award and wish her and the club every success in the future.”

Pictured is Bridgeen Byrne receiving her award from Michael Cooke, Sport NI.