Chichester youth sport awards: Everyone’s a winner

Silver award winners at the ceremony at Westgate Leisure  Picture by Kate Shemilt C130845-11
Silver award winners at the ceremony at Westgate Leisure Picture by Kate Shemilt C130845-11

IF ANYONE doubted the volume and quality of young sporting talent in the Chichester district, they should have been at Westgate Leisure on Saturday.

It was the venue for this year’s Chichester & District Youth Sport Achievement Awards, where trophies and certificates were handed to hundreds of youngsters who have shown a great commitment to sport and to volunteers and coaches who make it possible for them to play and to prosper.

The awards are run annually by Chichester District Council with support from the Chichester Observer and the Rotary Club of Chichester Priory.

All three organisations were well-represented at the ceremony. Awards were presented by council vice-chairman Cllr Nick Thomas and cabinet member for leisure, wellbeing and community services Cllr Eileen Lintill, Observer sports editor Steve Bone, Chris Doman, president of the Rotary Club of Chichester Priory, and Graham Jessop, also from the Rotary Club.

Cllr Lintill said: “Congratulations to all of the night’s winners, as well as all of the other nominees! The district should be very proud.

“We have a great many outstanding sports stars, coaches, parents and volunteers. Who knows, some of these young people may, in the not too distant future, be competing themselves for their country at the highest level in future Olympic Games!”

Rotarians and councillors praised the young people who had given the district such a good reputation in sporting circles and the adults who gave their time and energy to back them.

Mr Jessop, who is Rotary’s representative on the judging panel, praise the Observer’s coverage of youth sport.

And so to the winners and nominees. Below is a full list of everyone nominated in all the categories, and of the youngsters who received bronze awards for playing sport at district level, silver for county and regional level and gold for national-level competition.

And the winners?

{|Here’s the lowdown on Dennis Polhill award winner Madeleine Angell plus a gallery of pictures from the ceremony.

And here’s who else won - and why.

Team of the Year

Chichester RFC under-tens had a truly outstanding season, winning five trophies while operating a fantastic player rotation policy, ensuring all 20 members of the squad got fair playing time.

They came first in the Vectis, Midhurst and Petersfield tournaments and were runners-up in West Sussex Championship and the Pulborough Trophy.

They played through torrential rain, snow, four-inch-thick mud and freezing conditions - but their positivity, friendship and respect for each other has them back every week with huge grins on their faces.

Coach of the year

Jon Mills from St Gerard’s Amateur Boxing Club gives his time to help change young people’s lives through sport. He has been described as a true inspiration to other aspiring coaches.

St Gerards head coach Gerry Lavelle said he had convinced Jon to coach at the club.

“He visited your open day at Oaklands Park and I managed to get him back in the ring doing pads with the kids, and the rest is history,” said Gerry.

“Jon is a Chichester boy, born and bred in the county, who boxed for Chichester Boys’ Club and was a very good prospect.

“St Gerards got hold of him at the very end and we knew how lucky we were to have such a special person.

“He started attending our club sessions, passed his coaching course and he is a wonder in the gym especially with our younger members, who all love him.

“This award will mean so much to Jon and to our club as a whole. To get him back and see him giving back to his community is a real miracle. It was great to see the surprise and sincere happiness on his face.”

Volunteer of the year

Tina Turner of West Wittering CoE Primary School is a fantastic role model to all children lucky to have come under her guidance. She volunteers at the school and has offered her services purely for the love of sport and the children.

Tina has coached the school netball team for a number of years, assists with swimming sessions and the school’s mini triathlon and supports outdoor adventurous activities on the school’s residential trips.

Tina is always willing to help out with travel to and from events and competitions, ensuring the children get maximal opportunities in many different sports.

Without her voluntary, reliable and frequent support, the children at the school would enjoy significantly less sport and competition.

Tina sums up what is fantastic about volunteering and investing time in grass roots sport. Some may even say she’s simply the best.

Young Person’s Commitment to Sport

Tennis stalwart Laurie Emerson has assisted the Crablands club’s tennis coach every Saturday for the past three years. He is prepared to turn out whatever the weather and has shown great commitment to the club and has proved himself to be a valuable asset.

Laurie works tirelessly with the younger children and has been instrumental in developing their skills and enthusiasm for tennis and has built a wonderful rapport with them and is extremely popular, consistently demonstrating an enthusiastic and professional attitude and is a marvellous role model.

Outstanding Sports Performance of the Year

Athlete Olivia Pine was a very sick child who spent many years in hospital with breathing difficulties and, as a consequence, was very unfit.

Until just over a year ago, after years of being ignored by PE teachers, she decided to enter the 2012 Chichester Corporate Challenge.

She came last. But she wouldn’t give up. She ran all three races in the series, coming last each time. But the race made her determined that next time, she would do it properly.

Olivia, a pupil at Bishop Luffa School, began training herself, running alone on the beach in Wittering. It was hard at first as she was very unfit, but she pushed herself to go further each time. She had no help; she did all her training alone, aged 12. At school in PE she started to overtake people and her teachers learned her name.

In November 2012, this person ran 43km to raise money to ‘give back’ to Howard Ward at St Richard’s Hospital to say thank-you for all the years they cared for her. She raised £1,200, running alone and organising all of her own sponsors.

In February, less than a year after her first lap of the Chichester Corporate Challenge, she was selected to represent Bishop Luffa at the Sussex Schools Championships at Christs Hospital.

At the championships, she performed so well she was selected to represent Sussex at the southern championships at the end of March.

In March this year, Olivia entered the Chichester Corporate Challenge again and came far from last. Her story truly is an inspiration, a real tale of triumph when staring adversity in the face.

Outstanding Contribution to Sport

Fencing coach extraordinaire Sharon Blackman is a two-time winner of the Coach of the Year award, but she has been long deserving of the Outstanding Contribution award for their extensive and enduring support and enthusiasm for driving up youth participation in fencing in the Chichester area.

Sharon works with hundreds of young people at Chichester Fencing Club, aged five to 18. Visiting dozens of schools and running the club, she bring hundreds of children into participating regularly in a sport which encourages discipline, respect and fair play.

She has attended every one of Chichester District Council’s Get Active Festivals and in 2012 delivered 160 individual taster sessions to members of the public.

Sharon’s achievements are not simply limited to driving up participation in sport, but in also ensuring members of the club record outstanding competition results, ensuring the name of Chichester is recognised all over the country and beyond.

This high standard of coaching has resulted in members of the club winning national medals, Commonwealth titles and being offered places to represent GB in the Paralympic Games.