Wales' Year of Legends
Following on from the 2016 Year of Adventure, we now enter the
Year of Legends - the Welsh Government-led marketing campaign
designed to galvanise the tourism industry and to showcase the very
best of Welsh culture during the year. It's an opportunity to
celebrate a wealth of sporting and cultural events and icons, and
here at Sport Wales, we plan to do just that!
Here, are our legends.
Action Bikes Cycling Club
Community sport thrives thanks to the passion of its
Our March Legend, Karen Gibbins, is one such volunteer.
Her outstanding dedication in developing women's cycling in her
community saw her awarded Volunteer of the Year at the Swansea
Sport Awards this month.
Karen, a librarian from Birchgrove in Swansea, started cycling 2
years ago. In 2016 she decided to start a Ladies Club as part of
Action Bikes Cycling Club and has been instrumental in securing
Lottery funding to help grow the club.
With over 100 ladies encouraged to get off the couch and cycle
40 miles over 10 weeks, it has been a huge success, thanks to her
hard work and motivation.
She also started the Swansea Ladies Cycle Challenge 2016 to
encourage women in Swansea to take up the sport and takes out 30+
riders weekly through the Winter as a Breeze Champion.
Karen, a Level 1 and 2 Breeze Cycling instructor, knows the
physical and mental benefits of cycling and sport in general. She
has volunteered her time to help others learn more about road
cycling and enter events. Her passion for cycling is
She's taken part in events herself, including the Paris to
Amsterdam bike ride for the Paul Popham fund which helps renal
patients across Wales to receive a better quality of life. She also
took part in the Ride to Somme and featured on BBC Countryfile on
Remembrance Sunday last year.
Georgina Harper, National Development Manager at Welsh Cycling
said: "Women's cycling is continuing to grow as part of our
SheCycles Wales project, reaching out to women across Wales and
getting them on their bikes. Karen is a fantastic ambassador for
women's cycling, leading rides as a Breeze Champion and encouraging
women to take their cycling further with her local club Action
Bikes CC in Swansea. Karen is one of many women who are inspiring
more women to cycle in Wales."
Volunteers like Karen are helping other women get fit and find a
sport they love. Well done Karen #YouSportLegend
Netball and Football Coach
In a legendary month for netball in Wales, it seems fitting that
volunteer netball coach Vicki Randall is awarded our Legend for
PE teacher Vicki, from Cwmbran, spends much of her free time
coaching netball in Torfaen as well as running a women's football
club - another of her sporting passions.
It is her hard work and dedication within community sport that saw
her awarded the BBC Wales Sport's Unsung Hero for 2016.
When Vicki set up Cwmbran Youth Netball Club in 2009, there were
just five girls. It has now grown to 230 members across 14 teams,
as well as a 'tots' session for girls as young as one. Vicki
also runs Risca Netball Club, managing all five of their teams in
the South East Wales League.
After a knee injury and nine operations, she was forced to give
up playing netball and football. This is when she turned to
coaching and has even been known to turn up to sessions on crutches
or in a wheelchair rather than miss it.
Vicki set up Cwmbran Celtic Ladies football team in 2012, guiding
them to promotion to the Welsh Premier league just two years later.
She also started a reserve team to encourage more women to take up
Vicki typically devotes four evenings a week to coaching sport
after work, as well as her weekends with netball fixtures on a
Saturday and football Sundays.
It is fair to say that sport plays a major role in her life! Ann
Daley from Pontypool, whose daughter plays netball with Cwmbran
Youth agrees: "Vicki has given so much to so many, volunteering all
her free time. She has had a massive impact in raising levels of
participation in sport for girls and women in South East
Instrumental in the growth of both grassroots netball and women's
football, Vicki is truly deserving of being called
Cricket Beyond Boundaries
Ali Abdi is an enthusiastic and charismatic figure within the
Grangetown community in Cardiff, and this enthusiasm is one of the
key reasons the Cricket Beyond Boundaries programme has been so
successful. His knowledge of the BME community has been
instrumental in engaging with the project's target group; ages 13
to 25 and he has enabled the delivery of pop up cricket clubs
across Cardiff, targeting areas not usually associated with
Funded by the Calls4Action programme launched by
Sport Wales - and funded by the National Lottery - to help tackle
inequality by using sport to breakdown cultural and economic
barriers between communities, the programme has been the catalyst
for two more BME projects in Newport and Swansea. Its success has
been recognised through winning prestigious ECB awards, namely the
ECB diversity award.
Mark Frost, Glamorgan Cricket's Community & Development
Manager speaks extremely highly of Ali and the project: "We have
been delighted with our BME cricket project, especially because it
has unearthed both boys and girls into playing cricket regularly.
Ali has been an excellent asset in how he has networked and
connected with different community groups, showing his
understanding of different ethnicities and how to put activity on
using local volunteers."
Ali is truly a Welsh sporting community legend. Through the
result of his hard work many young people have had the opportunity
to participate in cricket who would not have done so before, and
he's created a sustainable network of volunteers to ensure the
project sees continued growth and success.
Sport Wales Senior Officer Susie Osbourne said: "The Cricket
Beyond Boundaries project has gone from strength to strength with
increasing participation through indoor sessions over the winter
and more girls getting involved. Ali's boundless enthusiasm
in leading this project has been a huge part of its success, as has
his support to new volunteers within the BME community. He
thoroughly deserves this recognition."
We'd like to say huge thank you to Ali for his commitment and
dedication, and congratulations on being our January legend.