The Inspire Wales Awards are an initiative of the Institute of Welsh Affairs in association with the Western Mail.
Inspirational people from all walks of life are being honoured in the second annual Inspire Wales Awards. The awards – a partnership between the Western Mail and the Institute of Welsh Affairs – recognise the contribution of those in the fields of business, education, science and technology, arts and media, the environment and sport. They also aim to mark the work of young achievers, those who promote Wales to the world and the Welsh language in the workplace, as well as champions of citizenship. Here, we reveal the finalists in the Sport category.
Kelly Davies is a prime example of how hard work can translate into tangible results. A former Arsenal and Liverpool Ladies player, Ms Davies gave up the professional game to establish Abergele-based social enterprise VI-Ability, which offers footballing work apprenticeships for economically-inactive people and training for those looking to work in the industry. The unique enterprise also doubles as an advisor to football clubs on how to maximise their income streams, to avoid administration, as well as reaching out to a number of vulnerable groups. The programme has grown in turnover to more than £1m, and has secured contracts to deliver programmes to a further 180 economically-inactive people in the Conwy area. Her persistence has also seen the programme adopted as a partnership by Colwyn Bay FC and Bangor FC and was recognised as the Best Social Enterprise Start-up of the Year in both Wales and the UK.
Mizan Hafizur Rahman
A former restaurant manager and part-time fitness instructor, Mizan Rahman changed career to start his invaluable work bringing ethnic minority groups into football two years ago. As football inclusion officer for the Welsh Football Trust, Llanelli-based Mr Rahman has worked tirelessly with community groups to work around barriers to black and ethnic minority communities in Swansea and Cardiff to playing football, including long, unsociable working hours and religious commitments. Soon after his appointment, he was instrumental in setting up the South Wales Multicultural Football League involving six teams from the two cities – more than 80 players. As a result of his tireless mentoring, two of the teams have since joined mainstream local leagues after the season ended, and he is now the driving force behind plans to set up junior teams, coached and mentored by those he inspired to join the league.
Dr David Hedydd Davies
Since 1979, former Welsh athlete Dr Hedydd Davies has been dedicated to advancing and developing the standards of athletics in SouthWest Wales – with staggering results. He has transformed athletics facilities – including the opening of the Carmarthen Athletics Track – and is personally responsible for bringing competitive events to South West Wales, with the success down to his exemplary organisation in his position as Carmarthen Area Education Officer. In 1980, there were no organised athletics events for primary schools and Carmarthen Harriers was among the weakest clubs in Wales. Now, with 25 to 30 athletics events each year for all schools and organisations, 5,000 young athletes are taking part in events. His work has allowed many young athletes to emulate him and represent Wales internationally. Under his leadership, he has helped improve athletics standards to the point where schools in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion have won Welsh cross-country titles for the last 19 years and – as chairman of his own club, Carmarthen Harriers – he has steered the club into a position where it has won the Welsh Junior League Cup 16 times in 17 years. His efforts were recognised at the highest level when he was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 2007.