Clubs, coaches and chairmen top the list of nominations for prestigious awards night
Three veterans of community sports clubs in the West Midlands have been announced as the finalists in the BBC Midlands Sport Unsung Hero Award and will go head-to-head for the chance to represent their region at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016.
Richard Brough from Handsworth Grammar School Old Boys Water Polo Club, David Finney from The Bridge Swimming Club in Redditch, and Keith Hardy from Wyrley Juniors FC near Cannock, have been named alongside finalists from five other categories at the West Midlands Community Sports Awards, recognising community sporting heroes from across the region.
The awards recognise sports clubs, projects and individuals that have made a difference in their local community across six different categories; Community Club Award, Community Project Award, Community Coach of the Year, Aspiring Talent Award, Power of Sport Award and the BBC Midlands Sport Unsung Hero Award.
Richard Brough has been the lynchpin of Handsworth Grammar School Old Boys Water Polo Club for more than 50 years, serving as chairman, team manager, coach, mentor, math organiser, club secretary, lifeguard, referee and driver.
He will go up against octogenarian David Finney, who set up The Bridge Swimming Club over 40 years ago and has since added a badminton club and a youth club, and Keith Hardy, the longstanding chairman of Wyrley Juniors FC who helped build the club to more than 60 teams covering all ages, both male and female, able bodied and disabled.
The long list of finalists across other categories includes championship winning coaches, a Paralympic silver medallist and a number of individuals who have used sport to turn their lives around. Individual sports clubs and community initiatives are also recognised, including educational programmes, a cycling participation scheme and a fundraising run in memory of Joel Richards, who tragically lost his life in the Tunisian terrorist attack in 2015.
The winners will be announced at a special ceremony at Villa Park on 30 November, hosted by Nick Owen and Mary Rhodes from BBC Midlands.
Chris Child, chair of the WMCSA and chief executive of Energize Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, said: “With so much fantastic sporting talent and hundreds of grassroots initiatives across the region, the standard is always high in the West Midlands Community Sport Awards, but this year it has been particularly difficult to select a shortlist.
“These awards are not just about recognising the best sporting talent – although there are some notable achievements across the finalists including Paralympic medals, national and world championships. Instead, they are designed to showcase the dedication and commitment shown by so many people in order to help make a difference through the power of sport.
“All of the finalists have already been named as winners in their own local County Sports Partnership awards and they can be incredibly proud to have made the final shortlist. Now we are all looking forward to what is sure to be a fantastic night at Villa Park.”
The West Midlands Community Sports Awards is run by six County Sports Partnerships across the region; Black Country BeActive Partnership; Coventry, Solihull & Warwickshire Sport; Energize Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin; Sport Across Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent; Sport Birmingham; and Sports Partnership Herefordshire & Worcestershire.
One individual or team will also be inducted into the BBC Midlands Sporting Hall of Fame, joining previous winners including Sir Stanley Matthews, Dennis Amiss, Gordon Banks, Dave Moorcroft and Richie Woodall.