23-year-old Jenny Bell, U16s Girls Rugby Coach & Senior Women’s Coach at Limavady Cricket, Rugby Football and Hockey Club has been named Sport NI SportMaker Young Coach of the Year.

The Young Coach of the Year award recognises the creativity, innovation and determination of a coach under the age of 25 who is dedicated to supporting those they teach.

Sport NI surprised Jenny with her award at a training session,

“I am so shocked that I have been given this award. Totally surprised. Everyone in the club knew and I can’t believe they kept it a secret for so long!”

“I started off coaching with the younger age group boys, under 14s, under 16s then started up the girls. Yeah, now I’m here coaching at the club and more recently we have just started our women’s team as well. But we’re doing great and I can’t wait to see where the women go now.”

Clearly passionate about the women’s game, Jenny has played an integral part of building the new women’s section at Limavady, both on the pitch and at committee level, and is committed to inspire more females to get involved in the sport.

Caroline Meenan, Limavady CRFHC was delighted to see Jenny recognised for her dedication to the club and women’s rugby,

“I nominated Jenny because of the role model that she is for all age groups. She’s a role model for kids aged 8 up to aged 50 that are in our senior women’s team. She’s so respected by everybody and she really goes above and beyond to provide that wee extra bit of support because it is difficult in the women’s and girls’ game breaking those barriers and she breaks them for us definitely.”

With no rugby pathway in place at the club for her to follow, Jenny felt she missed out on an opportunity and now wishes to ensure no other child experiences the same barriers to participation.

For Jenny, her motivation to give up her evenings and weekends to volunteers comes from the girls on the pitch and encouraging and inspiring them to love the sport as much as she does,

“What you get back from seeing those girls with a big smile on their face when they win or when they’re out and to see them just out in the wind and the rain, just having great fun. I’m just so passionate about seeing women involved in sports. I think it’s really nice to see girls who would have not been involved in other sports in the past to be able to come down. It’s really made for everyone, and everyone’s made to feel welcome. There’s a place for each and every person.”

Richard Archibald, Interim CEO, Sport NI also congratulated Jenny on her award,

“Jenny’s love for coaching really comes across and that is why I’m delighted she has won this award.

“Jenny is an inspirational young coach who is making a real difference within her club, motivating and encouraging women and girls to not only give the sport a try but also to have fun and play to the best of their abilities.

“Congratulations Jenny – you are a SportMaker!”

The Sport NI SportMaker Awards give the sporting community the opportunity to showcase their achievements and give special thanks to coaches, officials and volunteers who work hard behind the scenes to make sport happen. There are 11 award categories recognising achievement at all levels of sports participation, from grassroots through to high performance.