Bradford came together to celebrate the inaugural Bradford Sports Awards last night, sponsored by Provident.
Eighteen awards across five categories recognised a host of individuals, clubs and teams together with grassroots and community heroes from the area.
Over three hundred people packed into the Bronte Suite at The Bradford Hotel for the ceremony to toast the achievements of athletes, coaches and volunteers from every level of sport.
High profile guests included Bantams manager Phil Parkinson while City legends Stuart McCall and David Wetherall, Bradford Bulls Chief Executive Robbie Hunter-Paul and Yorkshire County Cricket Club Chief Executive Mark Arthur were also in attendance.
Amongst the winners on the night were Bradford City, who were named Club of the Year whilst also claiming the Sport Highlight award for their FA Cup heroics against Premier League giants Chelsea.
Bantams Manager Phil Parkinson took to the stage to collect the trophy, and felt the awards were a huge success in their first year. “It’s just great to be involved in this and to hear about the fantastic achievements of other sportspeople in this city” he said.
Yorkshire and England cricketer Jonny Bairstow won Sportsman of the year ahead of teammate Adil Rashid and Wigan and England Rugby League start John Bateman, sending his thanks via a video message.
Young archer and Tokyo 2020 Olympic prospect Jessie Slater pipped former Commonwealth Games medallist Michelle Smith to the Sportswoman award whilst Sensei Mumtaz Khan was named Coach of the Year for her work with Onna Ju-Jitsu Club, helping hundreds of people to be more physically active and transform their attitudes towards exercise.
Provident were the Main Sponsor of the Bradford Sports Awards and presented their own Good Neighbour Award to Mixed Ability Rugby World Tournament event organiser Martino Corazza.
Young boxer Mohammed Harris Akbar, who won the only winner’s medal for England in the Commonwealth Youth Games 2015 in Samoa, claimed the Young Male Sportsperson award. “It’s amazing to win an award like this” said Akbar. “Next, I’m focusing on the World Championships this year before the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Then 2020 is the big one – the Olympics.”
The Young Female Sportsperson category was arguably the strongest and most impressive collection of finalists. All four finalists were National Champions with some holding British records, Commonwealth and European honours. However it was Denholme weightlifter Rebekah Tiler who took home the prize for her hugely impressive 2015, snatching Gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games, a Gold and two Silver Medals at the European Youth Championships and she was also nominated for the BBC TV Young Sports Personality of the Year.
Tiler said “I’m just speechless! The other finalists were amazing and there is so much young talent in this city, so I’m truly honoured. I’ve got the European Championships in April and then it’s about qualifying for the Olympics.”
Elsewhere in the Young Achievers category, Bradford Bulldogs Ice Hockey Club netted the Young Club/Team award after a year which saw two of their junior sides crowned English Ice Hockey Association national champions. “Everyone works so hard at the club, so to get an award and some recognition is fantastic” said head coach Andy Brown.
With Bradford increasingly been looked upon as one of the UK’s foremost centres for disability and inclusive sport the Disability Sportsperson award was one of the most highly competitive categories of the night. Team GB Wheelchair Rugby player and European Champion Coral Batey was selected ahead of Bradford’s three Special Olympics powerlifting medallists James Crossley, Chris Woodhead and Helen Burton.
The coveted Club/Team – Non-Professional award was given to Horizon Taekwondo Academy for their clutch of young stars and 5th place position in the British Championships. Coach Natalie Kidd delivered a rousing acceptance speech; “The secret of our success is hard work, determination and the parents’ support. We’re not just a taekwondo club, we’re a family. This award means everything to us”.
Pete Softley, a full-time Police Officer, claimed the volunteer award for giving up his time for Dudley Hill Rangers FC and the Bradford & Calderdale Keybury Junior Football League. During a moving acceptance speech he said; “I am just very proud to be from Bradford and I feel very humble”.
The Active Organisation award went to JCT600, who raised £62,260 for the Alzheimers’ Society through a 12-hour cyclathon, the Great North Run and the Yorkshire Three Peaks walking challenge.
The coveted Active School prize was handed to Southfield School, who place physical activity at the heart of the curriculum for their students who have a range of physical and learning disabilities. Southfield School pupil Sam Robinson also did his best to steal the show in winning the Young Disability Sportsperson award. He received a standing ovation and revelled in the applause of all those in attendance.
Keighley’s Muhammad Ali, one of the brightest young boxing talents in the United Kingdom, won the Student Sport – Sportsperson award. Ali, A silver medallist in the European Boxing Championships who also competed in the European Games and the AIBA World Championships, was unable to be present for his award due to a GB training camp but recorded an appreciative acceptance message that was played back on the big screen.
Muhammad’s Bradford Police and College Boxing Academy, who have several world, European and national competitors in their elite squad, won the Student Sport – Club/Team award.
Bradford Bulls Chief Executive Robbie Hunter-Paul summed up the feelings of those in attendance at the end of the night;
“These awards have been a long time in coming, why haven’t we been doing this for the past two decades?” he said. “It’s a hugely important event. We’ve been honoured to have been a part of it”.
A full list of the winners and finalists can be viewed here http://goo.gl/K0SsmR
A selection of photos from the evening can be found here http://goo.gl/XUrgM7
Visit www.activebradford.com to be kept up to date with sport and physical activity across Bradford.
Images courtesy of Allan McKenzie / SWPix.
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