Shortlists revealed for the Cambridge United Community Trust Sport in the Community Awards
Inspirational is the theme that runs through the Cambridge United Community Trust Sport in the Community Awards.
During the past three weeks, in partnership with the Cambridge Independent, we have been revealing the lists of nominees for the six categories in the awards, which will reach their conclusion at a Gala Dinner at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford on May 2.
It has been a difficult task for the judging panel to narrow down the exceptional candidates to three in each category, which just demonstrates the superb work that is being done in the Cambridge sporting community and, from a performance perspective, the heights being hit.
The wide range of sports represented in the shortlists reflect the breadth of sport in the city.
The nominees in the star of the year category are rower Imogen Grant, athlete Thomas Keen, hockey player Tess Howard and cyclist Louis Rolfe; Cambridge 99 Rowing Club, Cambridge & Coleridge Athletic Club under-13 road relay team and City of Cambridge Swimming Club are in the running in the team of the year prize; and the shortlisted schools of the year are Cambourne Village College, St Matthew's School and Hills Road Sixth Form College.
Shortlised in the coach of the year section are Phil Kinsey, Lisa Trigg and Phil Mullen; the champion of the year nominees are Andy Richardson, and Tracy Hutchinson and Paul Beastall; and the inspirational performance contenders are Georgie Cohen, Tia Johnson and Nikhil Gorantla.
Cambridge United Community Trust chief executive Ben Szreter said: “It’s been great to see a wide selection of nominations for the Sport in the Community Awards this year. These nominations show the strength of community sport in Cambridgeshire and we’re delighted to be able to showcase that through the awards.
“The standard of entries this year has been fantastic and the judging process has been particularly hard. However, we are excited to present the final awards at our Gala Dinner on May 2 to those chosen as the final winners.”
Champion of the year nominees:
Andy Richardson orchestrated the transformation at Cambridge City Hockey Club.
He was chairman for eight years and when he took up the role, there were four ladies’
team and just about five men’s teams.
The sister junior club had around 200 members.
By the time, Andy stepped down as chairman last summer, there were 13 senior sides –
seven men’s teams and six ladies – and the junior club has more than 500 members.
The two first teams played in their respective England Hockey League, Conference East divisions – the second tier of the national game – and there have been a series of promotions over the years.
City have produced a plethora of junior internationals, including recent Great Britain debutant
Tess Howard. At the other end of the scale, City have provided several players to the Masters international teams, including over-60s ladies world cup gold medal winner Sally Tippen.
Andy set-up an outreach programme to attract state school pupils who had not played the
game to participate, and the club now runs ‘back to hockey’ sessions.
As one nomination read: “This is not the work of Andy alone, but it’s clear that without him
hockey would not be thriving in Cambridge as it is now.”
Tracy Hutchinson and Paul Beastall
Tracy Hutchinson and Paul Beastall were the driving force to bring a parkrun to Coldham’s
There had long been an event at Milton Country Park, and runs were also staged at Wimpole
Estate and Hinchingbrooke Country Park, but there was nothing in the city.
Paul got involved with parkrun as part of a programme to become more healthy, while Tracy had started by taking her son but realised that you did not need to be a runner to take part
with the inclusive nature of the run being a big selling factor.
Tracy and Paul then put their combined efforts together to help deliver a parkrun on Coldham’s Common.
Star of the year nominees:
Thomas Keen had an athletics summer awash with gold.
It is fair to say that the Cambridge & Coleridge AC member was in dominant form in almost any distance he raced, but it was in the 3,000m that he made the biggest impression.
Thomas was part of the Great Britain squad for the European Athletics Under-18 Championships in Hungary in July and claimed the country’s first gold of the competition.
He was up to the challenge set by two Turkish athletes with 1km to go, and made his move with one lap to go, striking for the gold medal.
By that point, Thomas had already taken a silver medal at the England Athletics Under-20/
Under-23 Championships in the 1,500m at Bedford and that was despite being only 17.
Nine days after his success in Gyor, He went to the New Balance ESAA English Schools’ Championships in Birmingham and won the 3,000m gold by almost four seconds.
The medals kept coming in the latter part of the year as well, with Thomas being part of the C&C senior men’s team that earned their best result in the South Eastern Road Relays in 41 years.
The six-strong squad won the bronze medal out of 78 teams at Crystal Palace.
There was also a bronze medal with the junior men’s team at the ECCA Saucony English National Relay Championships in Mansfield in November.
A world record and a silver medal show Louis Rolfe continues to be among the best on the para-cycling scene.
The Cambridge-based cyclist took part in the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships in the Netherlands in March.
In the MC2 1km time trial, Rolfe produced a world record time of 1min 14.390sec, but the time was subsequently beaten on three occasions, knocking him into fourth place.
However, joining forces with Jody Cundy and Jon-Allan Butterworth for the mixed team sprint, the Rio Olympic champions earned a silver medal, losing out to the Chinese team by two tenths of a second.
One gold medal was already in the bag for the season as Louis and his teammates were victorious at the TISSOT UCI Track Cycling World Cup in London.
Imogen Grant has been making waves on the rowing season.
Despite growing up in Cambridge, the Bar Hill-based former Stephen Perse Foundation and Hills Road Sixth Form College student first picked up an oar in 2014, but that has not held her back.
Imogen had success in the Women’s Boat Race with Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club, however, her career has taken off on the international scene.
On her senior international debut at the Rowing World Cup regatta, she finished fourth in the lightweight single sculls in Belgrade.
Imogen went on to compete in the same boat class at the World Rowing Under-23 Championships in Poznan, taking gold in a dominant display by two lengths in July. It was a step back up to the senior squad in September when Imogen raced at the 2018 World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv. And she capped a memorable year by winning the bronze medal. Imogen has taken a sabbatical from her studies to be a doctor to train with the GB squad in Caversham, with the target being the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Small steps for most hockey players but one giant leap for Tess Howard could be one way to describe her ascent to the Great Britain squad.
The 19-year-old former St Faith’s and The Perse School pupil had represented England at age group levels, but not been capped at senior level for the national side.
However, Tess skipped that part to be called into the senior GB squad for the FIH Women’s Champions Trophy in November.
She had impressed through the trials process, and was part of the first GB squad since their gold-medal win at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
At the event in China, Tess made her debut against the hosts, and went on to score her first full international goal in a 2-2 draw with Japan.
Tess has since been named in the GB squad for the new FIH Pro League and played against the USA and Argentina in recent weeks.
School of the year nominees:
Hills Road Sixth Form College
A new venture was launched at the college to encourage girls to take up rugby last academic year and it has proved a success.
An initial 18 girls put their names down to take up the sport and now, in its second year, it has proved to be a roaring success.
They had nine students represent the East Region women’s team at last year’s Association of Colleges’ Sport National Championships – with a further 14 from the college also competing in a range of other sports.
The growth of girls’ rugby in the area led to the inaugural Cambridgeshire District Secondary School Sports Association festival at Shelford Rugby Club in November, organised by Hills Road coaches Adrian Medd and Gareth Streeter and Carl Humphries, the head of education at Chesterton Community College.
Girls from Hills Road’s rugby team helped support the event.
Away from the rugby, Hills Road also sent a record-breaking five crews – three boys’ and two girls’ boats – to the Schools’ Head of the River Race on the Tideway, although the bad weather meant one of the boys’ crews was unable to race.
Cambourne Village College
Encouraging participation in sport is one of the primary aims at Cambourne Village College.
Opportunities are given to children to try out and participate in a wide range of activities, running not just school teams but a good selection of lunchtime and after-school clubs.
PE teachers are fun, friendly and encouraging to all abilities, willing to give up their time to help students further their sporting ambitions.
Staff want students to see that sport can be fun and have listened to feedback as to what clubs the students would like to have access to, including trampolining, table tennis, badminton, rowing, dance, gymnastics, football, netball, rock climbing and rugby, to name a few.
They also arrange many sports trips and tours.
One parent explained how her daughter became a sports leader and went on to be sports prefect, working alongside the staff to promote sport and encourage others to participate – so much so that she wants to pursue it at A level and have a career in sport in the future.
The teachers were supportive of her ideas to reach out to local primary schools, and involved her whenever possible in running clubs and refereeing football matches.
St Matthew's Primary School
St Matthew’s Primary School fosters the idea of participation in sport regardless of idea and that has encouraged many boys and girls to try a range of activities.
The school promotes sport for all through a variety of initiatives.
It runs a plethora of after-school and breakfast clubs covering football, cricket, acrobatics, gymnastics, yoga, netball, hockey, striking games and Kung Fu, to name just a few.
They are all maintained by the tireless work of teachers Mick Collard and Lisa Woolfe.
St Matthew’s also entered the most children in the cross-country competitions for the district.
Team of the year nominees:
City of Cambridge Swimming Club
It has been a year to remember for City of Cambridge Swimming Club.
The Arena League is the premier club competition in England, with teams competing in regional events hoping to qualify for the national finals.
City of Cambridge ended up in 18th place nationally in the qualifying events so were invited to take part in the Arena League B final in Cambridge.
Their ability was there for all to see as City of Cambridge performed well above their ranking to finish fifth.
The strength and depth of the squad was also on show as the B team gained promotion into the regional competition Premier Division for 2020.
Cambridge & Coleridge AC under-13 boys' road relay teams
It has been a team effort for Cambridge & Coleridge AC under-13 boys as they have picked up multiple regional and national accolades.
They won the South of England Road Relay Championships, the Saucony English Cross-Country Relay Championships and the National Road Relay Championships at Birmingham’s Sutton Park.
The youngsters earned silver at the Southern Cross-Country Championships and claimed bronze at the Saucony English National Cross-Country Championships.
It has been a different group of boys throughout the season as some have been forced out through illness and injury, but they have always pulled together as a squad.
They are good friends and always support each other and, despite their age, have been an inspiration to the rest of the squad.
Cambridge 99 Rowing Club
Squad growth at all levels has been one of the themes of the year for Cambridge 99 Rowing Club.
The impact has been seen in the progression squad, juniors and adults.
With the support of St Edmund’s College Boat Club, St Mary’s School and others, the club is an advocate of the excellence of sport in the city.
Nines, as they are more commonly known, have brought rowing to a wider audience over the last year.
There have also been some top performances across the crews, particularly the men’s first crew.
They have been producing consistently good performances over the past year, and particularly the last season at Head races and during the regatta campaign.
Inspirational performance of the year nominees:
It could be said that from a standing start, Georgie Cohen has made an inspirational impact.
In March this year, the online communications officer at the Cambridge Judge Business School created history for Israel.
Georgie became the nation’s first female skeleton slider at the BMW IBSF Bobsleigh & Skeleton World Championships in Canada.
There is something of the film Cool Runnings about her story, as the former Bassingbourn Village College and Hills Road Sixth Form College student grew up in the region which is not exactly renowned for its mountains. Or even hills!
Her father started to bobsleigh aged 50, and Georgie could not turn down the chance when given the offer, and instantly found her sport.
Only in November did Cohen make her international debut for the Bobsleigh Skeleton Israel Olympic Federation in Austria and her performances in the skeleton European Cup – another first for an Israeli athlete – earned qualification for the world championships.
Georgie now has ambitions to represent Israel at the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.
It was a big-hitting impact when Nikhil Gorantla made his Cambridgeshire CCC debut.
When Nikhil played in the final Unicorns Championship clash of the season against Suffolk last summer, he became the youngest player in Cambs history at the age of just 15 days and 73 days.
Undaunted by that place in the record books, The Perse School pupil went on to hit a half-century – 53 – in the first innings and then a useful 20 in his second.
An impressive performance during an Emerging Player Programme camp at Framlingham College, where he played trial matches across all three formats of the game, led to him being selected for the Graham Gooch Essex Cricket Academy.
Nikhil has been playing club cricket with adults since the age of 11.
Nikhil, who played for Royston, is hoping to be competing for a place in the Essex under-17 team this summer.
A superlative example to all young sportswomen is how Tia Johnson has been described.
She is a member of Cottenham United Colts under-14 girls’ football team, and has led them with dedication and determination.
Tia has not missed a training session and has worked at a consistently high standard to ensure that her team has maintained a high position in the league.
She has boundless enthusiasm and has played in midfield and in goal, and scored in plenty of matches this season.
Coach of the year nominees:
One nomination simply sums up the feelings towards Phil Mullen.
It read: “Phil goes above and beyond his role as disability coach, not only is he a great mentor to the children but also a great friend.”
Phil is described as being a great listener who can encourage even the shyest children to participate, and is patient, understanding and knows how to coach those who cannot communicate verbally.
He teaches people with disabilities of all ages, being described as “the disabled champion” and also an inspiration to encourage individuals to become coaches themselves, with one such person saying “he was the very person to help me in my dream to become a football coach”.
Phil has led the way to provide more opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in sessions consisting of ambulant cerebral palsy football, Down’s syndrome football, blind football, visually impaired football, deaf and hearing impaired football, frame football, powerchair football, amputee football and manual wheelchair football.
Phil Kinsey promotes a wide range of sports and activities for children and adults.
Based at different locations throughout the community, his passion for sport shines through.
He is a good role model and inspirational figure who brings together children and adults from all walks of life, with the community-based approach extending to supporting not only those who participate in his clubs but also their families.
Phil wants everyone to enjoy sport and reap the much wider benefits that a sporting lifestyle can bring, and that comes through with his sportsmanship, and kind and caring approach.
As one nominator said: “Phil makes a very tangible difference to the community in which he grew up.”
Lisa Trigg is manager of the extremely successful St Ivo School girls’ football teams, who have tasted both English Schools’ Football Association National Cup and British Isles Championship successes in recent seasons.
It is not just with one age group that Lisa has enjoyed wins at the national level, and her bubbly and engaging character has been an inspiration for girls wanting to get into football.
This season, the St Ivo under-15 girls’ team have made it to the ESFA PlayStation Schools’ Cup final.
The under-16s are also through to the final of the Premier League Schools’ Cup for Girls’ final at the Manchester City Academy Stadium.
Lisa’s knowledge of the women’s game is also a huge asset to St Ives Football Club’s ladies’ team.