Introducing our Learner of the Year 2022 Winner and Finalists
The Sports Leaders Learner of the Year award celebrates the achievements and progress made by learners throughout their Sports Leaders course. Nominations for the Learner of the Year were made earlier this year, with entrants receiving recommendation from their tutors alongside personal entry videos.
From these nominations, our award selection panel chose a number of finalists and our overall national winner.
Our finalists were selected based on their demonstration of going above and beyond what is expected of them to realise their potential, showcasing what their personal development means to them and the steps they have taken to use the skills they have developed for the benefit of their communities in a positive way.
From our finalists, our winner was then selected - read on to find out more.
Here’s the run-down on our winners for 2022: -
Winner: Harry Jones, Buckinghamshire
As a student with communication difficulties, taking on a Sports Leadership Qualification was always going to take Harry out of his comfort zone and create new challenges for him to face. From a young age, he found it hard to interact with people and he describes himself as not being very sporty.
However, as he progressed through his level 2 course, he has found himself coming out of his shell, going from being unwilling to take part in sport to being the one who leads others in a variety of activities and events, including a multi-school football tournament.
In addition, he has experienced teaching students with ASD difficulties, giving him a new insight into the different challenges that students face and how everyone has individual needs.
Before the start of his course, Harry wanted to be more involved in helping others, but he felt that his own confidence and communication held him back. By completing his learning programme, he gained in confidence and leaned that he did have the ability to lead a session independently, boosting his self-esteem and providing him with the belief that he was a good Sports Leader with lots to offer to his friends, community and society.
Harry’s tutor, Steve Cristofoli, nominated him for the award, feeling that he had never before seen a pupil more deserving of recognition. He said: “I have been running Sports Leaders courses for over 15 years and have never really felt the urge to nominate a student, despite having many capable and impressive individuals through the years.
“Harry is such an impressive and unassuming young man who belies his young years and I just feel compelled to nominate him.
“Our school is an establishment for students with communication difficulties or behavioural problems. When Harry arrived he barely spoke , had little to no confidence and struggled to find an identity for himself.
“Over the years and particularly through his Sports Leader courses he has developed an incredible personality. The students he works with love him and the teachers are inspired by him and the journey he has made. He uses humour to get the best from his charges and is incredibly persuasive at encouraging involvement and participation. He is keen, enthusiastic and a great organiser.
“He is a true role model for younger students and a great ambassador for our school. I whole heartedly recommend him to receive recognition for his skills.”
Amy Doe, Derbyshire
Playing sport has always been important to Amy and was something that gave her confidence and self-belief. By taking on her Sports Leaders course, she wanted to be able to transfer these attributes to other areas of her life ahead of studying for exams in Year 12.
Her biggest challenge on her course was being one of the older Sports Leaders, learning to lead new learners aged 11-12 years old, but once Amy overcome her uncertainty about this, it actually became her favourite part of the course, encouraging everyone to work together and enjoy the activity.
One particular highlight for Amy was hosting a women’s senior cricket team, taking the players through a series of drills and activities to develop their skills. The event take serious planning, but having put in the work to get this aspect correct, Amy knew that everything would run smoothly and everyone would enjoy the occasion.
Completing her course helped Amy to understand the importance of pushing herself to achieve things she never thought possible beforehand, becoming a part of her school’s community while also developing her skills and leading her own events.
Isla McGregor, Inverclyde
Before starting her course, Isla had the goal of developing her skills when working with groups of children to eventually realise her dream of working a nursery and becoming a highland dance teacher. Among her biggest challenges was a limited knowledge of a range of sports, meaning that she would be tested on her ability to learn them and lead others.
Isla quickly learned that preparation was key, learning as much as she could about sports such as football, basketball and hockey, to develop delivery plans that would guide her through the sessions and boosting her confidence to lead.
Volunteering was a particularly important aspect of the programme for Isla, giving her a chance to put into practice the skills learned in her course.
Completing her course has given her much greater confidence and a belief that her input and knowledge is always valuable, encouraging her to share her views more often and take on more new challenges.
Melody McMahon, Dundee
Melody’s goal for her course was to gain skills she could apply to a variety of situations in her future, particularly in terms of her communication and teamwork. She wanted to gain more confidence in being able to speak in front of a group and to make sure her ideas were heard.
During her course, she was tasked with leading an event for 20 young people, but a last-minute change of venue forced a switch to a different plan. As a result, she had to think on her feet while making sure that the children participating were safe during the session by changing the activities to suit the location. This showed excellent problem solving in a short space of time under stress.
Completing over 200 hours of volunteering, Melody worked with seven other Ambassadors and completed the Women: Get Set, Go award as well as speaking publicly to Golf’s Royal & Ancient Club. In addition, she has led 10 hubs for young girls to encourage them into sport, creating a safe and fun space for them to meet and participate.
This year's Learner of the Year Awards were our biggest so far, with more nominations than ever before. From all the applications, our panel of judges selected our finalists and one overall winner - take a look at their videos here to find out what made them the outstanding candidates.