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Community Engagement Award winner – South Coast Sports

Group of smiling men with their glass award
South Coast Sports won the Community Engagement award which was presented by Active Sussex team member Gemma Finlay-Gray. Picture by snapitnow.co.uk

"We will continue to drive positive change in our active communities," says winners of the Community Engagement Award

A Bognor Regis business running an Active Tots programme and offering young Ukrainian refugees free summer holiday activities has been recognised for its work.

South Coast Sports (SCS), based in Aldwick, won the Community Engagement Award at the Sussex Sports Awards on Thursday (November 24), run by Active Sussex and held at Sussex County Cricket Club in Hove.

Co-company director Ali O’Boyle said:

South Coast Sports’ desire to collaborate with other like-minded organisations and individuals sets us apart. 

“We are creative problem solvers and think outside the box. Meaning we are a force to be reckoned with and we will continue to drive positive change in our active communities.”

SCS was created in 1998 by a group of like-minded friends and for the last 20+ years has been running community projects alongside their work in schools.

They work predominantly with children aged two to 12 and have made it its mission in the wake of the pandemic and increasing cost of living to ensure sport can remain both affordable and accessible for the whole community.

The Active Tots programme, designed and delivered by SCS, works on the early building blocks of life, developing fine and gross motor skills, communication and language. 

These busy Saturday sessions in turn fund midweek sessions in other locations and enables SCS to offer discounted sessions to the pre-school community.

SCS proposed Ukrainian refugee children be invited to attend holiday activities for free through the extension of the HAF programme and this took place in the summer. 

With an incredibly short timeframe to pull this off, the small team worked around the clock to ensure everything was in place. 

SCS then created their own fund to enable children to integrate into their local and school communities by funding these children to participate in extracurricular and community sports.

At the awards, head coach James Belding spoke about their work with Ukrainian children who had to flee their homes and come to Sussex.

“It is definitely something that has been eye opening as we have not had experience of dealing with that situation. 

“It sounds cheesy, but to see the children get involved, whether they can speak English or not, is fantastic and maybe more so that the children currently in our sessions welcomed them in as well. It was very rewarding.”

He added:

“We are really proud of this achievement and the work that we do and the people and children we help.” 

SCS have a long history of supporting and developing girls football opportunities and at Easter they ran girls only football camps in Mid Sussex, with a female only coaching team. 

After the historic victory of the Lionesses, it offered ‘girls go free’ at its three day Horsham Football Camps, providing more than 30 free places. 

It also sponsors Bognor Regis FC U14 Girls, and Bognor Regis U10 Girls receive free training with SCS this season.

One of the many impactful projects South Coast Sports runs is the Girls Give It A Go project, targeting teen girls who are notoriously hard to engage. 

The project focused on offering a wide range of active opportunities, in the hope they would find something they would enjoy and engage with and had a huge impact on a small number of young women.

You can read more about the Sussex Sports Awards winners here.

Three men in suits smiling at the camera
Coaches from South Coast Sports. Picture by snapitnow.co.uk
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