Benali and Phipps give speeches Eastleigh Sports Awards

Daily Echo: Francis Benali was at the Eastleigh Sports Awards Francis Benali was at the Eastleigh Sports Awards

A former Saints star and a London 2012 Paralympian both delivered inspirational speeches at the Eastleigh Sports Awards at The Ageas Bowl.

Franny Benali, pictured right, veteran of 389 appearances for Saints over a 16 year career, gave a rousing talk about the graft required to achieve in sport.

Aaron Phipps, from the Team GB Wheelchair Rugby Team and local squad Solent Sharks, spoke about his incredible tale from laying in a hospital bed to competing at the Paralympics.

Adam Pullinger was first up on stage to collect his award for Participation Coach of the Year.

The 22-year-old is first-team manager of AFC Stoneham and led them to a Southampton Senior Cup victory last season at St Mary’s.

Noel O’Dowd (Eastleigh Running Club) picked up his trophy for Performance Coach of the Year. Senior Sportsperson of the Year was Samantha Aplin, the Eastleigh Running Clubmember who finished fourth in her category at the Dualthlon World Championships in France.

Deaflympics star Melanie Jewett won the Senior Disability Sportsperson of the year afterher bronze in the marathon at the Games in Sofia last year.

The Junior Disability Sportsperson of the Year went to boccia star Katy Kemish, who claimed victory at the National Championships. 

Southampton Mustangs Baseball team were Senior Team of the Year after they reached the National Final Championships three years running.

Squash starlet Kyle Finch mopped up as the Junior Sportsman of the Year, following an incredible year. 

He became European number one in his Under-15 age group and also clinched an Under-15s National Championships victory.

Badminton player Ira Banerjee received the Junior Sportswoman of the year while Ffion Eade picked up the Junior Volunteer of the Year after her work in netball.

A double award was handed out for Senior Volunteer of the Year as Louise Drayton and Debbie Bartlett both showed outstanding commitment to local sport and couldn’t be separated.

Poseidon Amateur Boxing Club bagged the Club of the Year. They were set up a year ago and have since grown considerably, welcoming people aged six to 67 to their Ageas Bowl base.

There was also Service to Sport Awards for Tim Nash (volleyball) and Chris Featherstone (cricket). Sue Boote received a Service to Sport award after her inspirational work for improving people’s self esteem in the local community.

Joan Veal, anambassador for canoeing, also got an award. Geoff Smith from AFC Stoneham FC, who has fulfilled every possible role at the club, picked up his trophy for services to sport.

Toynbee Girls Rugby team, who are the fifth best team on the south coast after an impressive first season, claimed the Junior Team of the Year after winning the Hampshire Championships in their first year.

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