On the evening of Saturday 19th October, the World Academy of Sport (WAoS) announced the inaugural winner of its ‘International Award for Excellence in Sports Education’ at the Manchester Sports Awards.
The winner was unveiled as Olympian Rebekah Wilson who was given the Award for her work in upskilling young people, diversifying the delivery of sport and education, and youth crime reduction initiatives through her role at the Diane Modahl Sports Foundation, based in Manchester.
Rebekah, who is known to her friends and colleagues as 'Bex', is a British former Bobsleigh brakewoman who competed in the two-woman Bobsleigh team at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Speaking about winning the International Award for Excellence in Sports Education, Rebekah says: “This Award is a proud recognition of the hard work that myself and the team at the Diane Modahl Foundation have put in over the past 10 years. The world of sport has been my home and opened doors that I could only dream about as a young person. I want to thank all those who have and continue to support me so that I can wake up each day doing what I love - engaging, educating and empowering the next generation to grow up and do great, great things.”
Award Judge Sir Philip Craven, the former President of the International Paralympic Committee says: "Passion and Inspiration can often be just words, but here we see them, through Rebekah's amazing work, materialise in teaching life skills through sport to marginalised groups of young people. Many congratulations to Rebekah!"
The two joint runner ups of the Award were: Tan Teck Hock, whose work with student-athlete programmes at the Singapore Sports School (a WAoS accredited Athlete Friendly Education Centre) allows student-athletes to remain supported in their sports pursuits while continuing with their education; and Ghizela Enslin, Coaches Manager at Tennis South Africa, who helps to increase opportunities for the more inclusive development of tennis coaches in her region.
“I was impressed by Teck Hock’s passion to use various methods to ensure that each student excels not only in both sports and academia, but also in life skills. He is obviously willing to share his knowledge with others,” says Award Judge, Molly Rhone, the former President of the International Netball Federation, “and I congratulate him on becoming the joint runner up for this Award.”
“Meanwhile, Ghizela’s work in South Africa is helping female tennis coaches to overcome inequalities in education, poverty, unemployment and ethnicity through excellence in coaching,” says Award Judge Helene Raynsford, British Paralympic Association Athletes' Commission Chair and a Paralympic Gold Medallist and World Champion in Rowing. “Her approach of working tirelessly to further the programme and support the sport rather than looking for accolades shone through in her nomination. She is a very worthy joint runner up in this inaugural WAoS award which had a very competitive shortlist.”
Chris Solly, Managing Director of WAoS, is delighted with how the industry has responded to and engaged with the first edition of the International Award for Excellence in Sports Education. “I would like congratulate everyone involved in making the first edition of this Award a great success and thank all the nominees for sharing their amazing stories with our judging panel. On behalf of WAoS, I would like to extend my hearty congratulations to our first winner Rebekah Wilson, whose work at the Diane Modahl Sports Foundation based in our beloved Manchester has been inspirational. In the coming months, Rebekah will receive exclusive access to an appropriate training or development opportunity offered by WAoS that will be tailored to her individual needs. Additionally, I would like to thank Manchester City Council for allowing us to host this Award at their truly inspirational event.”
The video below provides footage of the work of all three of our finalists.