Community sport is set to be celebrated once again at the West Midlands Community Sports Awards this December at the University of Birmingham Sport. A shortlist of talent and contribution has been announced and recognises the positive impact that sport and physical activity can have on our local communities.

Organised by the six County Sports Partnerships across the West Midlands – Sports Partnership Herefordshire & Worcestershire, Sport Birmingham, Sport across Staffordshire & Stoke on Trent (SASSOT), Coventry, Solihull & Warwickshire Sport, Black Country BeActive Partnership and Energize Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin – in partnership with University of Birmingham Sport and BBC Midlands, the star-studded event celebrates the tireless work that local people carry out to enable our communities to engage in sport and physical activity.

Those shortlisted are from across the region, encompassing a wide variety of sports and activities from power chair football to swimming, showcasing the talent and dedication of individuals within the West Midlands.

Among those nominated, were a number of projects and individuals from across the Herefordshire and Worcestershire region.

Worcester Mixed Ability Rugby Club has been highlighted for their innovative approach to rugby. Regardless of their background or previous experiences, players are empowered to improve their ability, physically, socially and mentally. With success measured in terms of playing style and communication, the club has brought a new approach to rugby and has welcomed over 50 new players in to the club this year. Ranked best English side at the 2017 Mixed Ability World Cup, the team also placed 5th, an incredible achievement.

Malvern Hills Community Sports Awards winner, Danielle Miles-Ranger is amongst those shortlisted in the Community Coach of the Year category. During her time at university, Danielle, who had no previous links to the Leigh and Bransford Badgers Football Club, worked tirelessly to establish a Girls Development Squad, increasing participation from 0-20 members in just 6 months. Increasing confidence across the squad, her quiet, patient approach has helped to rapidly increase volunteer numbers with parents gaining qualifications to support Danielle to provide further opportunities for young girls.

Previous Herefordshire and Worcestershire award winner, Matt Richards was also named in the Aspiring Talent shortlist.  After an incredible season, the young swimmer from Worcester was crowned British Champion in 7 events, more than any other male swimmer his age.  He smashed British Records in five events, the Junior Record in the 100m Freestyle, along with eight Welsh Junior Records, more than any other male swimmer, including a number of former Olympians.

Balancing full time employment, family life and commitment with sport and physical activity is never easy, however the Worcester Taxi Super League was determined to make a change for local taxi drivers.  The first of its kind, the project was founded as a means of getting taxi drivers in to the fresh air and participating in physical activity.  Shortlisted in the Community Project of the Year award category, the league saw its first knock-out final held at New Road, backed by Worcestershire County Cricket Club.  The project has gone from strength to strength and now sees over 100 players participating from ages 14-55.

Recognising the positive impact that sport and physical activity can have, Lewis Higgs from Worcester has been shortlisted in the Power of Sport award category. Leaving school with few qualifications and engaging in low level anti-social behaviour, Lewis found support within his local youth centre. Re-engaging with the organisation, Lewis began helping with football sessions as a young leader. He soon became a volunteer and progressed to paid summer-time work. Empathising with young participants, Lewis has successfully maintained participation rates among those involved with drugs and anti-social behaviour and has developed as an extremely positive role model for individuals finding themselves in his former position.

Chris Child, Chair of the Local Organising Committee and Chief Executive of Energize Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin said, “It is the fifth occasion since 2012 that all six County Sports Partnerships from across the West Midlands have come together to recognise and celebrate the unstinting work that local people carry out to enable our communities to engage in physical and sports activities. We would also like to thank our partners, University of Birmingham Sport and BBC Midlands, for their support in making this event possible.

Inspired as we were to create this event following the 2012 Olympics, we are now equally driven to ensure there is an impact and legacy from the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which we are very excited to be hosting in Birmingham and across the West Midlands.

We know the impact an active lifestyle can have in improving lives and we hope these awards go some way to recognising local people for their hard work, but also for the ways that they are making a difference to the physical and mental wellbeing of their local communities.”

A full version of the shortlist and more information around the event can be found online at http://www.westmidlandscommunitysportsawards.co.uk. The West Midlands Community Sports Awards will take place on Thursday 6th December from 6:30pm at the University of Birmingham.