Wednesday 24th November saw the annual Sport Wales Coaching Awards ceremony held in Cardiff where coaches from across Wales were honoured for their achievements in 2010. For the first time in its history Wales Rugby League had a coach up for an award in Stuart Williams, who won the Male Coach of the year category.
Stuart has been coach of the Wales U18 national team for the past 2 years leading Wales in their most successful period ever with a European Cup triumph and back to back wins against the England Community Lions, and more recently a nail biting draw and a credible performance against the World’s best in the Australian Schoolboys on Tuesday night. Following on from this he has been appointed assistant coach to the Great Britain Community Lions team for the past 2 years, a role that he is thoroughly enjoying.
Away from the international scene Stuart has been head coach of the Crusaders U18 team for 2 years, winning the Gillette National Youth League in 2008 along with the coach of the year accolade, then more recently coaching the team in their transition phase into the full Super League Academy season.
When asked about his achievement “I’m totally elated,” said 45 year-old Stuart. “It’s something special to be picked out for a national award like this. I love rugby and I played rugby union when I was younger. But I always loved watching rugby league – it was always a spectacle in my eyes”.
Stuart started out with the Valley Cougars in the Wales Conference and added “After working my way through my coaching badges in union I saw an advert for a league coaching course at UWIC. I took the course and haven’t looked back since”.
Asked what keeps motivating him to succeed he stated “Keeping involved in sport is what I wanted from coaching. Seeing players enhance themselves through the season as athletes and characters. It can be hard work making 15 hour round trips to play games but it’s definitely worth it.”
Minister for Heritage, Mr Alun Ffred Jones AM who was present at the ceremony, said:
“I’m delighted that the Assembly Government has been able to provide additional funding for coaching in Wales, our investment is a reflection of the crucial role played by coaches the length and breadth of Wales. I’d like to congratulate each one of the winners for their dedication and to thank them for their hard work and commitment. Their stories are a real inspiration, which I hope will motivate others to take up coaching in order to make a difference.”
Sport Wales, along with its partners, has committed to doubling the number of coaches and volunteers in Wales, from around 110,000 to around 250,000 by 2016 – around 10% of the population.
Chair of Sport Wales, Professor Laura McAllister said:
“The winners are the perfect role models for what we want to achieve in Wales. Every one of them should be rightly proud of their achievements.
“More than ever, there is agreement and appreciation that coaches and volunteers are the lifeblood of sport. Without the fantastic work of the thousands already making a difference in communities, from grassroots to elite level, we wouldn’t have opportunities to take part in sport in Wales, and to excel.
“Now we need more of the public to follow their lead. We will need an army of enthusiastic and qualified coaches and volunteers. We’ll need help to encourage more people to help out – more mums, dads, family and friends. Once they’re involved, they’ll be hooked too.