Elaine Rice, Head coach of the Northern Ireland Netball team, has been recognised for her achievements with the squad at the 2017 Sport NI Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering Awards.

Glenavy-based coach Elaine Rice was named High Performance Coach of the Year after leading the team to qualification for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and a Top 10 world ranking earlier this year.

Since her appointment to Netball NI in 2016, Elaine has put in place and managed support for the Open squad, including regular strength and conditioning and physio access for the players. She has created a positive but challenging environment for the squad to develop, arranging additional fixtures to help improve the team’s ranking and also giving opportunities for talented Under 17’s and Under 21’s to train with the Open Squad. This has helped bridge the gap between underage and senior levels ensuring that there are young netballers ready to step into any gaps.

Netball NI Executive Manager Karen Rollo said:

Elaine has had a massive impact on the Senior Squad since taking over, providing challenging, enjoyable sessions that draw out the experience of the older players but also allow the less experienced to develop and learn. It is difficult to manage the senior squad given that so many of the players have additional family or work commitments or live overseas. However, Elaine has been able to put together a programme that maintains the intensity required to push the squad on as a whole as well as recognising the commitments particular squad members have”.

Elaine received her award from Sport NI Coaching Consultant Simon Toole during a team training session at Lisburn Racquets Club last week.

Congratulating  Elaine, Sport NI Chair George Lucas said:

“Coaching is at the heart of  helping communities enjoy, engage and excel in sport, and the Sport NI Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering awards are about celebrating the outstanding talent, dedication and success of local sportmakers. Elaine is a shining example of this and demonstrates the vital role coaching plays in inspiring and guiding our talented athletes to achieve at the highest levels of sport. I’m delighted that Elaine’s coaching and mentoring at Netball NI has helped bring the team from 12th place in the World Rankings to the Top 10. On behalf of Sport NI, I congratulate Elaine on her award, and wish her and all the team every success at next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia”.