We use cookies to give you the best experience and to help improve our website. By using our website you are accepting our cookies.  Learn More

21 Nov 2023 124

Vote for your Great Coaching Moment of 2023

UK Coaching has opened the voting for the Great Coaching Moment of the Year award as part of its 26th annual UK Coaching Awards. The shortlist for the most outstanding coaching moment of the year is… drum roll…

The Great Coaching Moment award honours those coaches who have played a central role in the most memorable sporting moments of the last 12 months*.

The unique relationship between sport and coaching creates moments that transcend the ordinary. Such moments are often described as poetry in motion. 

Sport then is the spark that ignites our spirits, the flame that warms our hearts, the fireworks that dazzle our eyes. 

And behind every great sporting moment lies a great coach. 

Coaches are the force that motivates and inspires their athletes; the mentors that foster a sense of unity and teamwork. Without their guidance, direction and devotion, such golden moments would not be possible.

So, this award celebrates the leadership and influence of coaches in laying the foundation stone for unforgettable moments that live long in the memory. This could take the form of legendary comebacks, unprecedented triumphs, or heart-stopping excitement and drama.

This year’s shortlist ticks all these boxes. But there can only be one winner.

So, from our four golden moments, which one shines the brightest and deserves to be crowned the winner?

*Qualifying period for the Great Coaching Moment of the Year is 1 November 2022 – 20 November 2023.

Brendon McCullum: England come from 2-0 down to draw an epic Ashes series 2-2

The Ashes series of 2023 was a thrilling roller coaster ride that had fans on the edge of their seats from start to finish. It was also a showcase of the innovative and daring style of cricket that England Test coach Brendon McCullum has instilled in his team. Dubbed “Bazball” by the media, McCullum’s approach combines aggressive stroke play, fast scoring, and fearless tactics to put pressure on the opposition and create exciting results – breathing new life into Test cricket. 

It was a series that gave us everything… except a winner. Under the dynamic leadership of McCullum and captain Ben Stokes, England bounced back from 2-0 down to draw the series. But for a rain-lashed climax to the Old Trafford Test, they would surely have recorded their first Ashes series triumph since 2015. In any case, they won the hearts and minds, not just of cricket lovers, but all sports enthusiasts. 

McCullum’s coaching moment of the year was not just a single event, but a whole series of brilliant decisions that transformed England into a formidable force in Test cricket. ‘Bazball’ is not just a “silly term” as McCullum himself called it, it’s a revolution.

Sarina Wiegman: Lionesses reach first World Cup final after beating hosts Australia in semi-final

Heartbreaking defeat in the World Cup final but another massive win for women’s sport. 

The nation was on the edge of their seats as Sarina Wiegman and her fierce pride of Lionesses roared their way to the final, overcoming obstacles aplenty and treating fans to a rollercoaster of emotions. The loss of key players through injury before the tournament, a red card to break-out star Lauren James, surviving a dramatic penalty shoot-out, and then the thrilling 3-1 semi-final victory against an Australia side vociferously cheered on by an impassioned home support – a match that will live long in the memory.

Under the expert tutelage and compassionate leadership of serial achiever Wiegman, England are now the Euro 2022 champions and World Cup runners-up. But much more than that, they have struck a powerful blow for equality, paving the way for future generations of female athletes to pursue their dreams without limitations. 

No longer is football thought of as being ‘just for boys’. Wiegman has played an instrumental role in helping change cultural attitudes towards female sport. With Wiegman at the helm, the Lionesses haven’t just succeeded in breaking the glass ceiling, they have also shattered the grass ceiling.

Aston Moore: Helping Katarina Johnson-Thompson defy career-threatening injuries to win a second World Championship heptathlon gold

A fraction of a second can make a lifetime of difference. Just ask Katarina Johnson-Thompson. KJT herself said before the championships in Budapest: “I had committed to getting my heart broken again,” such was her perennial bad luck with career-threatening injuries, including a ruptured left Achilles tendon and a torn right calf muscle.

It helped that this was the longest run she can remember with no injury leading into a major championship. But the real game-changer was her decision to team up with new coach Aston Moore – last year’s UK Coaching Awards Lifetime Achievement winner.

Gold medals are won by inches, not miles. And so it proved when KJT – needing to finish within three seconds of favourite Anna Hall in the final event, the 800 metres – crossed the line in a new personal best, just 1.54 seconds behind the American. Unbridled joy for an athlete unsaddled of the expectation that had previously accompanied her whenever she competed on the big stage.

Aston’s succinct verdict: “The greatest comeback I’ve coached.”

Tom Coyd: 27-year-old head coach masterminds England’s last-gasp victory over France in the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup final

Historically wheelchair rugby league has attracted little to no media attention. Then in the November 2022 it signalled its arrival on the sporting stage with the biggest of bangs. The World Cup received unprecedented coverage on the BBC, with the final attracting an audience of 1.2 million.

This most inclusive of sports had finally been given its moment in the spotlight, and it shone like a diamond, conquering viewers’ hearts, who were gripped by the skill and physicality involved and the thrill-a-second spectacle of a sport just as entertaining as the running game.

An overnight success story in so many ways but as Coyd, the young architect of England’s success, reminds us: “all the best work is done in the shadows”. From humble origins – the first game of wheelchair rugby league in England was played in a car park in 2003 – to the historic night in Manchester in front of a record 4,526 fans, when captain Tom Halliwell sealed a dramatic 28-24 win with a try three minutes from time.

As the television cameras captured the jubilant faces of the players, they also zoomed in on a small ball on the floor that was weeping with emotion. For Coyd, it was a moment of rapture, mixed with relief, crowned by achievement after years of relentless hard work and passion.

Discussing the shortlist for this year’s Great Coaching Moment of the Year, UK Coaching CEO Mark Gannon said: "It isn’t just the game-plan, tactics or results that make a great coach. It is something deeper, something more personal, something more human. This award also celebrates the pivotal role coaches play in creating moments of pure joy, excitement, and wonder that captivate our attention and imagination and make us forget our troubles.

“I am excited to discover who the public will pick as their winner on the night of the Awards.”

Let the voting commence! 

The public vote will close midday on Monday 4 December 2023.