What it's like to win a Wales Sport Award

Anyone in any doubt over the value of a nomination for the Wales Sport Awards should listen to the tale of Aled Jones-Davies.

The winner of the 2018 Community Coach of the year Award admits the trophy in his living room is the only one he owns that gets a regular dusting.

But it's not the silverware that is important to Aled. It's the effect of recognition and the confidence it has given him to go on and make even more of a difference at the club he's involved with.

Nominations for this year's awards close on Sunday, September 22 at midnight. There are three awards up for grabs where the public can put forward someone they feel would be a worthy winner.

They are: 

  • Inspiring Person
  • The Great Sport Story
  • Getting Wales Active

Last year, when the spotlight was on coaching, Aled was nominated by members of his club - Taf Running and Orienteering Team (TROTs), based in St Clears in Carmarthenshire.

Photo ALED JONES-DAVIES

In the 12 months since, he has grown the club's junior section to such an extent that they had 13 children enter the Welsh Road Relay Championships last weekend in Pembrey. The year before they had just one.

Not only that, but this spring he helped launch a cross country league with five primary schools competing that is hoped will expand to cover the whole of West Wales when it returns next year.

"As a coach, you never really know if what you're doing is right," admits Aled, a builder by trade, who oversees three running groups a week in the evenings as well as the one-year-old junior section.

"But when you get an award like this - and a panel vote for you - then that is a huge confidence booster.

"It meant a lot just to get nominated. But for people to think I deserved to win shows the trust people had in me as a coach. It felt phenomenal. I know now that my ethos and the way I want to go is 100 per cent the right direction.

"It has also definitely meant that certain doors have opened. Even on social media, I find that people re-tweet more of my tweets!"
Aled is quick to stress that his achievements at TROTs could not have been managed without the help of a supportive team around him.

Girlfriend Yvonne Davies handles the administration, while Mary Anthony coaches the juniors and assistant coaches Alys Williams and Ron Anthony are backed up by regular volunteers such as Caroline Anthony.

"I have a good team around me. It just couldn't happen on my own."

Aled is now coaching first-time women runners towards the Cardiff and Llanelli half marathons, while the success of young runner Ffion Davies, who has cerebral palsy, has ushered in other children with learning disabilities to come to the club's sessions.

"People are very supportive towards me and what I'm trying to do. And I'd say that last year's award has certainly helped with that.
 "I say to anyone who comes to me and says they want to be a coach - start as a volunteer with your local club. If you enjoy it, then look to go through courses in coaching.

"I wouldn't say it's for everyone. But if you have a passion to help then that will come through in your coaching.

"It is hard work, but the rewards outweigh that by a hundred to one. It can be hugely rewarding. You can't really describe the highs."

The three categories up for nomination this year are described by joint organisers Sport Wales and BBC Cymru Wales as follows:

Inspiring Person - to recognise a person who takes part in sport against the odds, achieved something brilliant in sport in the face of adversity or a person who goes above and beyond to encourage others to achieve great things

The Great Sport Story - to recognise a moment that has put sport on the map in Welsh communities over the past year

Getting Wales Active - to celebrate something or someone that has enabled sport in Wales to thrive and for more people to participate in - and enjoy - physical activity.

Full details on how to nominate can be found here: https://www.walessportawards.co.uk/2019-categories/

The winners will be revealed at the Wales Sports Awards night on Tuesday, December 10.

Award winner Aled recalls last year's evening as one he will never forget.

"I got to meet Tanni Grey-Thompson, which was brilliant. And Gareth Edwards also, a hero of mine.

"Lowri Morgan presented me with the trophy and I'm a big admirer of hers as she's a runner. It was just a fantastic night."

Photo ALED JONES DAVIES