Two Worthing clubs won prestigious awards at the Sussex Sports Awards on Friday evening.
Worthing Gymnastics Club won the The Grand Hotel club of the year award - the only one to be decided by public vote - while Worthing Town Juniors were crowned team of the year.
Now in its 15th year and held at The Grand Hotel, the 2017 Sussex Sports Awards welcomed special guest and Invictus Games champion Mike Goody, along with regular host BBC Sussex presenter Danny Pike. Both were on hand to offer their congratulations to all winners on what has been another highly successful year for the county both at elite and grassroots levels.
Worthing Gymnastics Club has grown from a small hourly hire in a school hall to now training five days a week and producing gymnasts who are attending the nationals in Birmingham – all of this without a dedicated facility. The club also works in most Worthing primary and high schools and collaborates with K2 Leisure Centre to share facilities. Currently, Worthing Gymnastics Club are in talks with Worthing College in order to secure a permanent base to ensure the town is firmly put on the gymnastics map.
Sadie Mason MBE, Active Sussex chief executive, said: “The coach at Worthing Gymnastic Club had a vision and with her hard work, dedication, and focus this club has grown into something the community can't be without. This award is fully deserved and I congratulate everyone associated with the club.
“This is only the second year The Grand Hotel Club of the Year Award has gone to the public vote and once again there was a real buzz and a large amount of suspense about the place, which we can’t wait to replicate once again. It also takes the excitement up a notch for those shortlisted and gives them one final chance to get their friends and family to vote whilst they enjoy the experience of the Sussex Sports Awards.”
Worthing Town Football Club Juniors were recently set-up by the club to enter the Sussex Disability Football League for the start of the 2016/17 season. The reason for creating this team was that there were many children who were keen to take part in football who had special needs, disabilities and conditions such as autism, ADHD, and Asperger’s. This meant playing in mainstream football was too difficult for them to cope with and this hindered their participation.
Despite little experience, and after losing their first ever game 4-3 to a well-established Brighton & Hove Albion in the Community side, the team which features a mixture of ages, took great spirit and hope from the way they performed.
Throughout the season, their next 17 matches were all victories, including a win in the reverse fixture against Brighton. Confidence increased in the boys, the older children supported the younger players, and everyone was made to feel part of the team. They finished the season with 19 wins, one draw and two defeats - the best record of all the junior teams in the Sussex Disability Football League.
The season was then completed at the Club's Football Festival, in the Inclusive Tournament (for children with disabilities), where the team reached the final and in a close-fought game they were triumphant again, winning 2-1.
The team has been developed from the ground up and has created a space for these boys to play. This means that the boys have formed a close-knit group, working together and with their coach to apply themselves to the game.
Sadie Mason MBE said: “This is the prime example of making sure sport is available for all – just as it should be.
"Worthing Town Football Club fully deserves the acclaim it received at the Sussex Sports Awards. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone associated with the club and wish them every success in the year ahead and during the current season.”