Sport Northern Ireland officials and history-making players from the Ireland Women’s Hockey team have paid tribute to the work of Northern Ireland’s sports clubs, coaches, officials and volunteers at a ceremony at Titanic Belfast on Monday 11th February 2019.

The Celebration Evening brought together the winners of Sport NI’s 2018 SportMaker Awards, who were presented with awards in recognition of outstanding achievements in delivering and supporting sport at all levels within local communities.

Joining the award winners was silver medallists from the Ireland Women’s Hockey team Shirley McCay, Zoe Wilson, Katie Mullan and Lizzie Colvin who took some time out from their busy training schedule to reflect on the highs and lows from their momentous World Cup journey last year.

Among those receiving awards during the SportMaker Celebration Event was Luke Carson who was named High Performance Coach of the Year for his hard work over the last 12 months, which included  multiple age group, junior and senior national medals and titles and three age group gymnasts selected for GB Dev squads. Two gymnasts at Commonwealth Games in Rhys McClenaghan and Ewan McAteer with Rhys claiming Commonwealth Games gold medal on the pommel horse. Rhys was also in attendance at the awards and talked about his experience from the Commonweath Games where he won Gold on the pommel horse, making history as the first ever gymnastics medal for NI in the history of the Commonwealth Games and claiming the country’s only gold medal of 2018 Gold Coast Games.

Also recognised during the ceremony was Move More Northern Ireland, the MacMillan project that has been making huge differences to the lives of people recovering from cancer, helping them get fit, active and sporty with the help of their coordinators across the country. Move More Northern Ireland was also recently awarded Active Life Award at the 2018 UK Coaching Awards.

Speaking at the event, Sport NI Chair George Lucas said:

“At Sport NI, we are passionate about supporting everyone here to develop and reach their sporting goals, from playground right through to podium. We know that local clubs and our outstanding sporting workforce are at the heart of making sport happen. Sometimes, it can be easy to forget the work that’s done behind the scenes, or to take for granted the difference it makes. That’s why we’re so honoured to be hosting this event.

“This event is all about shining a spotlight onto our local SportMakers and celebrating the work they do doing and the impact it has on athletes, clubs and communities. It is particularly pleasing to be joined by the players from the Ireland Women’s Hockey team, a testament of talent and professionalism that had us all gripped to our television screens last year. To be ranked from 15th to 8th team in the world, is an inspiration to the country that hard work and dedication pays off.

“I would like to congratulate all of those recognised this evening, thank them for their outstanding work in service of local sport, and wish them continued success in the future.”

The SportMaker Celebration also saw recognition for local sports clubs that successfully attained Sport NI’s Clubmark NI accreditation in 2018. Clubmark NI is Northern Ireland’s quality standard for junior sports clubs. The programme aims to identify, develop, accredit and recognise high quality junior sports clubs and the contribution that they make to the development of sport in Northern Ireland.

Photo caption: Sportmaker and Clubmark winners of Sport Northern Ireland Sportmaker Celebration Evening hosted by Graham Little with Sport Northern Ireland Chair George Lucas.

Winners from the night
Children’s Coach of the Year - Peter Stewart
Children’s Coach of the Year – Kim Godsman
Disability Coach of the Year – Gemma Reynolds
Young Coach of the Year – Emma Gorman
Performance Pathway Coach of the Year – Conor Hickland
Club Performance Coach of the Year – Clare Winning
Coaching Project of the Year – Move More NI
High Performance Coach of the Year – Luke Carson
Technical Official of the Year – Ben McGarrigle
Young Technical Offical of the Year – Kurtis Scott
Volunteer of the Year – Aidan Pounder
Young Volunteer of the Year – Jordan Buchanan