IT’S the event that salutes the district’s wealth of young sporting stars, their talent and commitment and the people who support them.
And it never fails to produce some fabulous stories of high-level success and of triumph over adversity.
This is the 15th year of the Chichester and District Youth Sport Achievement Awards and no-one who was at Westgate Leisure for the ceremony on Saturday would be surprised to see the initiative continue for as long again, and probably well beyond it.
It’s run by Chichester District Council with backing from the Chichester Observer and Chichester Priory Rotary Club.
And it’s fair to say everyone involved views it as one of their favourite events of the year.
Cllr Eileen Lintill, cabinet member for leisure, wellbeing and community services at the council, was present to hand out scores of certificates and awards.
She said: “Congratulations to all the night’s winners, as well as all the other nominees.
“We should be very proud to have such outstanding sport stars, coaches, parents and volunteers.
“These awards celebrate not only individuals, but everyone who has helped them to reach their potential, and that’s what makes the night extra special.
“We also hope the winners have helped to inspire other youngsters to reach their potential.”
The Rotary club was represented by president Mike Dennett and by Graham Jessop, who said it was fabulous to see what an important part sport played in the lives of so many young people.
He praised their sporting achievements and said it was important not to forget the vital role played by coaches and volunteers who ran local sport clubs, and parents who supported their children as they pursued their sporting dreams.
Here are the winners of the various categories, as judged by representatives of the council, Rotary and the Observer. On the right of the page is a full list of nominees.
Team of the Year
Chichester RFC under-11s – This team have had yet another truly outstanding season, going from strength to strength following what seemed to be a pretty tough season to beat. Not only did they win all their local tournaments, this team were also crowned West Sussex champions, placing them into a match with the champions of East Sussex. Sure enough, they went on to win this game, declaring them the champions of Sussex.
They really are a credit to their club and city.
Volunteer of the year
Alan Prior, Chichester Karate Club – Alan is an inspiration to all his students, helping them to achieve personal goals alongside sporting ones.
He and his family run the club and are incredibly dedicated. The club are about to celebrate their 40th birthday, with Alan having been there for the majority of that time, if not all.
Karate is all about self discipline, strength and determination. Every student is very fortunate to be trained by Alan.
Coach of the year
Sue Goacher, West Dean Primary School and Chichester Cormorants – Over the past 12 months, Sue has qualified as a level-two swim coach. She has raised the profile of her school and others through her work with Chichester Cormorants.
She has been pivotal in raising children’s enjoyment and has focused greatly on raising their self-esteem. She has given days of her time all for the children and it has allowed the swimmers at her school and Cormorants to realise their potential.
Young Person’s Commitment to Sport
This award honours people who are under 21 and who have shown great commitment to sport, perhaps as a volunteer or someone who helps coach at their local club.
Xavier Southerton, St Gerards Amateur Boxing Club – Xavier is one of the youngest assistant boxing coaches in the whole country, qualifying at the ripe age of 17. He is already giving back to the sport he has taken out of, by working alongside many of his club members in teaching them the skills and crafts necessary to compete within the hallowed ring.
He instills confidence and good morals to his club-mates, young and old alike, helping them change any negative attitudes and in turn addressing anti-social behaviour within our local communities, leading by example.
He is supported by the Rotary Club of Chichester Priory in undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh Gold award. Giving back is what he does best in inspiring his club members and many young people to positively change their lives. His commitment to sport is never-ending.
Outstanding sports performance
Harry Gray of Chichester Fencing Club – Despite suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, Harry set a goal to qualify for the British Championships. He tried last year and only managed to score one point, losing his knock-out round 10-1.
Instead of sulking and not trying again, Harry decided to work hard, train and try again this year. Sadly, as if his Asperger’s isn’t enough to cope with, Harry’s eczema flared up so badly that by the day of the south-east region qualifiers, his neck, chest, legs and arms were bleeding and horribly sore.
But instead of giving up and deciding not to do the competition, he carried on relentlessly in what is a horribly gruelling and draining fencing competition that lasts from early in the morning until 8pm.
Not only did Harry fence through the terrible pain all day, he went on to win the whole competition and is now the south-east regional champion, qualifying in first place to represent the south-east in the British Championships.
He was the very model of what a top fencer, and indeed sportsman, should be – polite, friendly and sporting, even helping out a rival, so much that the boy’s family thanked Harry at the end.
Toby Hamer of Chichester Canoe Club – Toby has always been an enthusiastic and dedicated member of the club and over these past few years his coaching skills have come into their own.
He shows unparalleled patience and understanding when teaching all ages and abilities of paddler and clearly gets considerable personal satisfaction from seeing the improvements and increasing confidence in his protégés.
His passion for the sport is infectious and the younger members of the club look up to him for guidance in all aspects of paddling and in particular in the art of playboating, or freestyle as it is also called.
Toby achieved his level-one coach qualification a while ago now and is working towards his level-two qualification.
He is a huge asset to the club: a pleasant, reliable and capable member and coach. He is also a keen sailor and his work in this sport is comparable to his work in kayaking.
Toby is a remarkable young man whose passion for sport is unrivalled.
Dennis Polhill Award
Oscar McCall (skier): IT might be downhill on the slopes for Oscar McCall – but his sporting career is certainly on an upward curve.
The 13-year-old skiing ace is the winner of the big prize in this year’s Chichester and District Youth Sport Achievement Awards.
He won the Observer readers’ vote for efforts which have seen him win a national skiing championship and get into the British squad for his age group.
McCall, from Stoughton, was selected for the Sport England under-14 skiing development squad last year and, recently, for the British Alpine skiing under-16 GB squad. He trains for much of the ski season with the British Ski Academy in Chamonix.
In January, he won the Welsh championships in Champery, Switzerland in the slalom and later that month he represented GB at the Andorra under-14 international races. His top place was 11th in the super combined race’s big international field.
In March, in Les Houches, France, the Churchers College pupil won the British inter-schools overall under-14 cup – followed by a trip to Meribel, France, where he won the Delancey British children’s championships in the under-14 slalom.
In the Chichester awards, he beat off competition from fencers, shooters and a hockey player – all of whom have performed at a national level – to win.
He also picks up a cheque for £250 from Chichester Priory Rotary Club, which along with the Observer are partners with Chichester District Council in running the awards.
ALL THE NOMINEES
Team of the Year
Nominees: Chichester High School for Boys Year 7 football, Chichester High School for Boys Year 10 football, Chichester High School for Boys Year 9 cricket, Chichester RFC under-11s; Lavant House School under-15 netball; West Dean Primary School swim team.
Winners: Chichester RFC under-11s.
Volunteer of the Year
Nominees: Kathy Evans, Margaret Karres, Keith Martin, Paul Maxted, Jo Maxted, Tom Rusbridge, Viv Mills, Alan Prior.
Winner: Alan Prior, Chichester Karate Club.
Coach of the Year
Nominees: Sue Goacher, Jon Mills, Gareth Fergurson, Alan Prior, Xavier Southerton.
Winner: Sue Goacher, West Dean Primary School and Chichester Cormorants.
Young Person’s Commitment to Sport
Nominees: Toby Hamer, Xavier Southerton.
Winner: Xavier Southerton.
Outstanding Sports Performance
Nominees: Jessica Breach, Sarah Carr, Harry Gray.
Winner: Harry Gray of Chichester Fencing Club.
Nominees: Rob Berryman, Toby Hamer, Harry Isted, Nick Smith.
Winner: Toby Hamer of Chichester Canoe Club.
(for those have represented their district or been a member of a district squad or equivalent)
Matthew Baker, Aaron Clear, Adam Corell, Tom Fielder, Peter Hetherington, Tom Hoskity, George Rye, Alfie Wilson.
(for those who have represented their county or region)
Rhianna Batchelor, Charlotte Beadle, Peter Beadle, Scott Brighty, Callum Budd, Kian Budholz, Angel Bull, Katie Burgess, Mitchell Coward, Emily Dodd, William Dodd, Robin Elliot, Archie Evans, Harry Gray, Dennis Hayes, Freddie Hayes, Max Hooper, Benedict Hothersall, Alex Jolley, Sebastien Maxted, Bella Newton, Monty Newton, Oscar Pickering, Nalin Ralph, John Raymond-Wells, Heather Rees, Tara Sallaba, Eve Schultheiss, Xavier Southerton, Shawn Thompson, Lille-Beau Thorpe, Leo Tregear, George Waller, Chloe Wildsmith, Kane Willis, Keeley Willis.
(for those who have represented their country or been a member of a national squad)
Achille Boswell, Sara Carr, Patrick Collyer, Matthew Foster, Courtney Hansford, Isaac Jolley, Oscar McCall, Oscar O’Hara.
Winner (Dennis Polhill award) – Oscar McCall (skier)