Meet the Winners

After a record number of public nominations, a shortlisting process and finally an independent judging panel the winners of the UK Coaching Awards 2017 were announced at a glittering awards ceremony on Thursday 30 November at The HAC, London.

Coaching Intervention of the Year - Supported by Sport England

Fitmums & Friends

Fitmums & Friends

Fitmums & Friends began life in 2009 when a mum – Sam Barlow – in an East Yorkshire village put a flyer in the book bags of her son’s classmates, inviting other parents to join her for an evening run. As a full-time working mother she wasn’t getting to meet other parents in the playground and felt she was missing out on making social connections. Five people turned up that first night and it was to be the beginning of
an extraordinary journey. The organisation now boasts in excess of 100 trained volunteer run leaders and nearly 1000 members, and has recently achieved charity status.

The initiative has now been replicated beyond the Humber, with 10 groups (each managed by a team of volunteers) across East, South and North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. There are also four junior athletic sections (for children from five years upwards), two cycle squads (for beginners through to more advanced riders), ‘Buggy Walk Workouts’ that enable parents to exercise with their children, and a host of other initiatives that support people in getting active.

Coach Developer of the Year

Rus Smith

Rus Smith (Multi-Sport)

Rus Smith develops huge numbers of coaches each year – over 1000 learners in the last 12 months – and leads the development of trainers and coach developers in the Midlands for StreetGames. Rus’ work in developing coaches, staff and volunteers is changing lives in some of the most challenging and deprived communities in the UK.

Rus’ support programme, the ‘Coach-Mate Connector’, which is based on his personal experiences, skills and abilities, where trust and respect enables people to successfully build and improve on their professional development alongside formal training, has been adopted by StreetGames.

Through educational events, mentoring and one-to-one support, the main aim of the programme is to widen access to coaching and coach development opportunities for those in low income areas and from underrepresented groups.

Coaching Culture of the Year (Co-awarded)

England RugbyEngland Rugby

England Rugby has a clear vision for coaching that actively attracts, engages, recruits and retains coaches from diverse backgrounds.

In keeping with that vision, England Rugby established a ‘Keep You Boots On’ programme, which helps participants get started as rugby coaches or referees. The ‘Discover Coaching’ part of the programme has given many people a taste of what rugby coaching looks and feels like, and addresses barriers some may face getting into coaching, particularly for young and female coaches. From January to July this year, the zone received over 20,000 unique visitors.

Additionally, over the last 12 months, England Rugby has seen over 27,000 coaches attend formal face-to-face courses, and 9000 access online player safety training courses. Its social media coaching series reached an average 75,000 viewers, and its newsletters featuring videos and news clips were distributed to 13,000 coaches per month. A sharing platform – known as the ‘Magic Academy’ – for talent development and schools coaches was also launched this year and has so far attracted over 1000 members. 

British Weight Lifting British Weight Lifting

British Weight Lifting (BWL) is committed to ensuring coaching remains a crucial part of its strategic objectives. It has embedded a pathway that serves entry level coaches right through to performance coaches.

In the last year, BWL has introduced mentorships for regional talent coaches and regional coach development days. Since 2016, coaches coming into the sport have increased by 70% (compared with 2015), and its current workforce of 3000 coaches impacts 60,000 weightlifters across the UK.

A growing area for BWL is the number of female lifters competing in the sport, with over 50% of entries at the last British Senior Championships being women. BWL made the decision to adapt its overall strategy to encourage more elite lifters into coaching. Nine women are now part of this programme. Another growing area for BWL is the multi-medal winning Para-Powerlifting team. As a result of the team’s success, BWL has increased the number of coaching opportunities and active coaches within Para-Powerlifting.

High Performance Coach of the Year

Benke Blomkvist

Christian MalcolmStephen MaguireBritish Athletics Relay Team Coaches: Benke Blomkvist; Christian Malcolm; Stephen Maguire (Athletics)

After coaching the women’s 4x100m and 4x400m teams to Olympic bronze medals in Rio, the trio of Benke, Christian and Stephen worked with all the relay teams for the London 2017 World Athletics Championships and achieved something quite remarkable.

All four teams – the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m – won medals. Notably the men’s 4x100m team, consisting of Adam Gemili, Chijindu Ujah, Danny Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, held off a strong American team to become World Champions. 



Talent Development Coach of the Year

David Unsworth (Football)

Alongside his role as Everton’s U23s manager, David Unsworth – who, as a player, made more than 300 first-team appearances for the Premier League club – has taken on a variety of other influential roles and responsibilities within the club. This includes conducting coaching sessions with the Everton Ladies team, and meeting with players and coaching staff to set out the standards and practices required of a professional outfit.

David, who holds a UEFA Pro Licence, has also recently been appointed Director of Academy Coaching, where he is responsible for developing the direction of the Academy in line with a clearly defined coaching strategy, whilst acting as a mentor to players to help bridge the gap between Academy, U23s and first-team level.

Off the field, David has taken a keen interest in Everton’s official charity and helped to launch its ‘Home is Where the Heart is’ campaign, fundraising £230,000 to purchase a house for the young homeless community in Liverpool.

Community Coach of the Year

Marcellus Baz

Marcellus Baz BEM (Boxing)

Marcellus Baz organises free boxing sessions for young vulnerable people who are involved in gangs or are at risk of getting involved. He also supports young ex-offenders and care leavers in the process of resettlement. He does this through mentoring, volunteering and personal development.

Marcellus offers over 20 hours of coaching every week, working in some of the most deprived areas of Nottingham and is well respected by the police, local schools and local authorities, as well as young people and their parents.

In 2015, Marcellus was invited to advise the Norwegian government on addressing extremism, and demonstrated to officials in Denmark how to work with young people to prevent them getting into crime. In 2016, Marcellus was invited by ‘Fight For Peace’ to give a speech on gang violence at a world conference in Brazil and subsequently attended this year’s conference in Los Angeles to share his experience of using boxing as a tool to tackle youth violence in the UK. As a result of his work Marcellus was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Unsung Hero Award.

Heather Crouch Young Coach of the Year - Supported by Youth Sport Trust

Samuel Tuck

Samuel Tuck (Rowing)

Samuel Tuck is head coach of the University of Surrey Boat Club (USBC). In the 2016-2017 season, Sam took on the development of over 40 athletes, and sent three women’s crews to the Henley Women’s Regatta, two of which made the quarter and semi-finals respectively, a first for the club. The aim for the men’s squad was the Henley Royal Regatta (HRR). Before Sam, only one men’s crew from USBC competed at the event. Now their men’s crews consistently qualify for the HRR Prince Albert Challenge Cup and this season was no different.

Sam runs a programme that is high-performance in nature, writing all the squad programmes (beginner, intermediate and senior) and regularly liaising with British Rowing to ensure that the strongest of his athletes are supported by GB as necessary. With organised external nutrition meetings and physiotherapy, regular pastoral care and physiological talks, Sam makes sure his athletes are supported in every sense.

Lifetime Achievement Award (Co-awarded)

John WhiteJohn White (Swimming)

John White was introduced to the world of swimming by his mother-in-law, who was the secretary for the Margate and District Indoor Swimming Pool Association. Subsequently, John dedicated 43 years of his life to coaching swimming – ever since his youngest daughter joined Margate Swimming Club at the age of six – and has been responsible for the development of three clubs in the East Kent area.

Many of John’s swimmers, who he coached in Thanet, went on to compete at all levels of the performance spectrum: Club, county, regional, national and internationally. Currently, he is Thanet Swimming Club’s lead junior coach to a squad of over 50 swimmers aged between 7-11 years, and is a popular and well respected figure by the swimmers, coaches and parents.

John has been and continues to be a mentor to a steady stream of volunteers and coaches, who he affectionately calls ‘His Angels!’ Many ‘Angels’ have since gone on to gain accredited qualifications and taken up paid employment in swimming.

Malcolm BrownMalcolm Brown MBE (Triathlon)

Malcolm Brown, who started his coaching career in 1980, is one of the most celebrated endurance coaches in the UK. After studying physical education and English, he embarked upon a career in academia and worked in a number of universities before joining UK Athletics (UKA) as a performance coach. During his time at UKA, he worked with the likes of Dame Kelly Holmes, Yvonne Murray and Paula Radcliffe – leading the athletics team as head coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

For London 2012, Malcolm was chosen by British Triathlon to work as their Olympic Performance Manager. Under his leadership he guided the Brownlee brothers to Britain’s first ever Olympic medals in the sport and was subsequently awarded an MBE for services to Triathlon.

Four years later in Rio, Alastair, Jonny, Vicky Holland and Non Stanford, who all train under Malcolm, won an unprecedented first, second, third and fourth place respectively in their Olympic races.

Children's Coach of the Year - Supported by sportscotland

Ady Gray

David Walsh (Multi-Sport)

Coming from a troubled background, David Walsh found that sport provided an alternative pathway to a more positive life, and he now inspires children experiencing similar difficulties to follow suit.

David works for Sporting Communities CIC as their Derbyshire development officer and has pioneered several innovative projects that, as well as physical activity, have social development at their heart. The largest has been ‘Cook, Eat, Play’, which targets children in poverty who are on free school meals, or whose family access food banks. The scheme, which has so far engaged more than 300 children, provides guidance on healthy food preparation and eating, and allows children to access free sports activities.

Disability Coach of the Year

Anna JacksonAnna Jackson (Wheelchair Basketball)

Playing wheelchair basketball had a positive life-changing impact on Anna Jackson, and she is now dedicating herself to giving other people that same opportunity, whatever their ability. Anna has her own physical limitations but this has not held her back from launching a coaching career, setting up Cheshire Phoenix Wheelchair Basketball Club in 2014.

As head coach of Phoenix, as well as Angels of the North and the Wales U19 teams, Anna has coached a number of players who have gone on to gain Regional and International honours – emulating her own progression, having enjoyed a 10-year international career that included representing Great Britain at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.

Anna has put a coach development plan in place at Phoenix that allows players to work alongside a trusted mentor to develop their coaching skills with a view to gaining coaching qualifications. She also conducts one-to-one sessions with disabled players who have complex learning, communication and behavioural difficulties, so they have the chance to develop at the same rate as the other players in the team.

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