OLDHAM AND ROCHDALE-BASED HANDBALL COACH DONNA HANKINSON ANNOUNCED AS BT’S UK COACH OF THE YEAR
Inspirational coach Donna Hankinson, who helped create the award-winning Manchester Hawks Handball Club, has been announced as the winner of BT’s Coaching for Life ‘Coach of the Year 2012’ competition.
Donna, based in the Oldham and Rochdale area, was chosen from over 120 entries across the country in a competition launched last month with help from the childhood coaches of sporting stars Mo Farah and Wayne Rooney. BT’s Coaching for Life programme is part of Get Set, the official London 2012 education programme for schools and colleges across the UK.
Donna was nominated by Dave Whaley, the father of one of her under 18 players, for being an ‘incredibly dedicated, inspirational and focused coach who has worked tirelessly for 31 years’ to promote the Olympic sport of Handball, a sport she started playing at the age of 10.
In 2010 Donna helped to form the Manchester Hawks Handball Club after a pilot project in schools around Oldham, Rochdale and Tameside. She has recently added a string of successes to her name, including coaching the Manchester Hawks boys under 18 and girls under 18 teams to both national league and cup doubles.
Donna also led Great Britain’s under 20 women’s team to their first World Championships in Poland earlier this year, and has some 2016 Olympic Games hopefuls in the squad.
As part of the competition prize, Olympic medallist Leon Taylor visited Donna at her sports club on Wednesday, July 18, to offer tips and advice to the future UK handball Olympic hopefuls and participate in a coaching session. Donna also received a new Samsung tablet to help aid and develop her future coaching programmes.
Donna said: “I’m really honoured to have won BT’s Coach of the Year award. This prize is all down to the great people I work with and the amazing kids who make coaching worthwhile. It was fantastic that Leon Taylor visited us during one of our last coaching sessions before the Olympics.
“We have some international level players in the Manchester Hawks squad, and having the chance to talk to a former Olympic athlete has inspired them to keep training hard to achieve their dreams. Handball is one of the most exciting sports for players and spectators alike and is the fastest growing sport in schools at the moment. I’m hoping that the 2012 Olympics will encourage more people to try the sport and get involved.”
Diver Leon Taylor, who was an Olympic medallist at the Athens Olympic Games, added: “Being an athlete is not something you do on your own. So many people helped me to achieve my dreams of participating in an Olympic Games, and I’m glad that I was able to attend Donna’s coaching session to share my experiences and give my support to the great work that she is doing with the Manchester Hawks.”
Julie Hindley, BT’s community investment programmes manager, said: “Donna is a very deserving winner of the Coaching for Life ‘Coach of the Year 2012’ competition, she has shown true dedication to the sport and to the teams she coaches. As a sustainability partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games we want to create lasting social benefits through education projects, and we hope that Leon’s visit inspires Donna and her teams to continue to achieve great things.”
BT’s Coach of the Year competition launched at the beginning of June with the aim of finding the most inspirational coaches in local communities across the country. As a sustainability partner to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, BT is encouraging coaching as a key skill that can be used by adults to enhance their relationships with young people with the Coaching for Life programme. The resource is part of the Communication, Collaboration and Citizenship strand of Get Set, the official London 2012 education programme.