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.

 

March 2017

Karen Gibbins

Action Bikes Cycling Club

Karen

Community sport thrives thanks to the passion of its volunteers.

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 contagious!

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

 

 

February 2017

Vicki Randall

Netball and Football Coach

Vicki Netball

In a legendary month for netball in Wales, it seems fitting that volunteer netball coach Vicki Randall is awarded our Legend for February.

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 the sport.


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 Wales."


Instrumental in the growth of both grassroots netball and women's football, Vicki is truly deserving of being called #YouSportLegend.

 

January 2017

Ali Abdi

Cricket Beyond Boundaries

Ali Abdi

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 mainstream cricket.

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. #YouSportLegend #GwladGwlad