THE man behind the rise and success of Jess Ennis, her long-time coach Toni Minichiello, was this week named UK Coach of the Year.
It can sometimes be easy to forget that she’s not the only athlete he coaches.
During his round of interviews following the announcement, I particularly liked one little tale he brought up and which underlines the pyschology of coaching and that it’s not just about the technical aspects.
He coaches a group of youngsters - possibly there’s a budding Ennis or Farah among the 13-year-olds - and Toni said he’s shown them a picture on his phone.
It’s of a giant drinks fridge in the Olympic Village.
“I tell them this: ‘If you make it to the Olympic Games, then you can walk up to one of those and help yourself’. That really motivates them.”
THERE’S been another national sporting honour bestowed on a man of South Yorkshire. And he’s been rubbing shoulders with Jess Ennis too.
The name isn’t as well known as Toni Minichiello but you may do well to remember it. Darren Padgett.
He’s a former PE teacher from Barnsley who, a year ago, set up a company which takes sport into school and communities.
Now, there are 14 people employed at his thriving company, Team Activ, and such is the impression he’s made that Darren has had a tap on the shoulder from the Shadow Sports Minister inviting him to be part of a Parliamentary Task Force.
Darren, who lives at Hoylandswaine, was named Unsung Hero at the prestigious Aviva/Telegraph School Sport Matters Awards.
He was nominated by Gordon Calvert, sports co-ordinator at Wombwell’s High View Primary School, one of the many primary schools (they also work with all the secondary schools) in Barnsley where they deliver extra-curricular sports and help to make such a difference.
Darren took a couple of High View youngsters, Charlie Winfield and Charlie Hodgson, to the national awards event held at Lord’s and the kids were able to meet Olympians such as Jess Ennis, Tom Daley, Jonathan Edwards as well as Paralympian and tv presenter Ade Adepitan. A great experience for them.
Based at the Shaw Lane Sports Complex in Barnsley, Team Activ was started by Darren in 2011 and is a not-for-profit, social enterprise company working not only with schools but also within communities and businesses too.
The money it does make is ploughed back into its programmes and Darren aims to re-invest £250,000 by 2017 into community-based sports activities for children across the region.
The benefits of helping develop self-confidence, self-belief and developing personal leadership skills have been apparent from all those that Team Activ have been helping these past 12 months or so.
“It’s a huge honour winning this award and having the efforts of the whole Team Activ team recognised on a national stage,” says Darren.
“This award can really help us raise awareness of the impact a model like ours can have on improving sport in schools and I’m already in talks with politicians as a result of the win.”
Darren’s confident they can use the award to highlight their work at the highest level.
And, who knows, one day an Olympian may have started out because of them.