A Belfast Badminton coach working with developmental athletes and a major Ulster University sports volunteering programme have been crowned winners at the prestigious UK Coaching Awards last night in Manchester.

Ulster Badminton’s Emerging Performance Squad Coach Andrew Stewart was named Performance Development Coach of the Year, with Ulster University’s Ulster Sports Outreach Programme winning the prize for Coaching Intervention of the Year at the glittering ceremony hosted by sports coach UK.

Both winners had been nominated for the awards following their victories earlier this year at the 2015 Sport Northern Ireland Coaching Awards in recognition of their outstanding contribution to local sport.

Andrew Stewart, Ulster Badminton’s Emerging Performance Squad Coach, was recognised for the excellent work he has undertaken with Para Badminton European Champion Niall McVeigh and some of Northern Ireland’s top junior players who have been competing and winning at UK and International Level.

Ulster University’s Sports Outreach Programme was crowned Coaching Intervention of the Year for its outstanding work to widen access to sport and physical activity to disadvantaged young people across Northern Ireland. Its 186 fully trained student volunteer coaches have delivered over 8,000 sport and physical activity sessions, creating over 200,000 participation opportunities per year.

Northern Ireland coaching talent was also represented at the awards ceremony by Belfast Deaf FC Coach Brian Babb, winner of the Sport NI Disability Coach of the Year, who was recognised as a finalist in the Disability Coach of the Year category.

Congratulating the winners, Sport NI’s Chair Brian Henning, said: “I am delighted to see the outstanding work of Andrew Stewart and all those involved in the Ulster Sports Outreach programme recognised at the very highest level. Andrew’s fantastic efforts to produce a nurturing and challenging training environment for developmental athletes demonstrate the kind of coaching approach needed to produce future sporting winners.”

“Ulster University’s Sports Outreach Programme has done some incredible work in providing opportunities for people to enjoy and engage in sport. The project demonstrates not only the importance of coaching in driving participation, but the power of sport to produce more cohesive and inclusive communities.”

“I would also like to congratulate Brian Babb on being named as a finalist for Disability Coach of the Year. Brian continues to play a leading role in promoting disability and deaf sport in Northern Ireland, having set up an Under 16 and female squad at Belfast Deaf FC in the last year, leading the Under 16s to victory in the National Deaf Football Northern Tournament in Liverpool in May 2015.”

“Sport Northern Ireland is committed to ensuring Northern Ireland enjoys, engages and excels in sport, and it is a great source of pride to see local talent and passion for coaching recognised at national level”.