Come rain or shine, you’ll find Nikki Upton at Risca Hockey Club coaching around 30 juniors. And when the session’s finished, it’s time for the seniors:

“Yes, sometimes the weather is horrendous,” she laughs. “Once it was hailing, so we all hid in the dugouts until it passed and then it was, Right, back to it!”

But even if it is ‘hammering down’ as it so often does in South Wales, Nikki says she could ‘never not turn up’:

“Sometimes, you get home from work and you feel exhausted – all you want to do is sit down. But once you get to training, you find the energy. Anyway, you can’t let them down can you?”

Nikki started playing for the club after her daughter was born six years ago. Having previously coached other hockey clubs it of course wasn’t long before she was nurturing the talent at Risca.

Back then the club was called Risca Ladies Senior Hockey Team. A lot’s changed since Nikki’s jumped on board. Just over 12 months ago, she created a brand new pathway from junior to senior hockey:

“To recruit junior members, we put on six week blocks of taster sessions at a local primary school. Pupils were all then given a free session voucher to come along to the club. We live in a pretty deprived area so we have kept sessions at just £1.

“That’s partly why we’ve been successful. We haven’t complicated things. There’s no commitment, it is pay as you play. We’ve offered incentives of free sessions if you bring a friend along. And we are giving players ownership of the team too, they’ve been fundraising for new kit so now they are picking which they like best.”

And her efforts are paying off:

“There’s one child in particular. He’s had a tough upbringing and he wasn’t very strong socially or academically. He was argumentative and would swear. But he has excelled on the pitch and is learning to be part of the team. He’s always the one that will be there ten minutes early and the one who helps out ten minutes after everyone has left. His concentration levels have soared and he just seems to have grown up.”

Now she has set her sights on starting a youth section so she can separate out some of the older age groups. And she is working with other local clubs of a similar standard to set up a mini league.

Rest assured that hockey in Risca, whatever the weather, will continue to prosper.

NIkki Upton Action


BBC Cymru Wales and Sport Wales will welcome the highly anticipated Emirates FA Cup Third Round draw to the Wales Sport Awards on Monday, December 7.

In what has been an incredible year in Welsh sport, the much-anticipated football draw will add extra excitement to the event, which will take place at Sport Wales National Centre, Cardiff.

Head of Sport, BBC Cymru Wales, Geoff Williams said:

“The draw for the Third Round of the FA Cup is always one of the most anticipated and iconic occasions of the football season, and we’re absolutely delighted to welcome this prestigious event to Wales.”

CEO of Sport Wales, Sarah Powell added:

“On a night when we celebrate the very best of elite and grassroots sport in Wales it is a privilege to be able to host the FA Cup Third Round draw at the home of Welsh sport.”

The FA Third Round Cup draw, presented by Mark Chapman will be live on BBC Two and BBC Two Wales at 7pm.

The Wales Sport Awards ceremony, presented by Jason Mohammad and Dot Davies will be live on and BBC iPlayer at 8pm on December 7 and will also be available on Red Button on December 8.

Programme Name: BBC Sport - TX: n/a - Episode: BBC Sport (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Chappers (Mark Chapman) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Andrew Hayes-Watkins

Programme Name: BBC Sport – TX: n/a – Episode: BBC Sport (No. n/a) – Picture Shows: Chappers (Mark Chapman) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Andrew Hayes-Watkins


Helping to deliver at least two coaching sessions a week and helping more than 200 young people to play golf is an incredible achievement for any 16 year old.

But consider this: Jordan Rosser has eight separate disabilities including autism, Tourettes, hypermobility and he uses a hearing aid which his mother, Emma, says “all impact on his daily life.”

But his saying goes like this, “Disabled just means differently abled.”

The youngster – an accomplished player who competes regularly at high profile events such as Ladies European Tour Pro Ams and the Ian Poulter Invitational, is the junior captain at Rhondda Golf Club.

A loyal servant to golf, he coaches at Valleys Golf Enterprise and First Swing Academy at Bryn Meadows Golf Club. And Golf Development Wales regularly calls on his support at major events.

His Mum explains:

“I’m so proud of him. He always puts everyone and everything first. His health has dipped this past month which means he hasn’t been able to do as much coaching as he would like. But he always forces himself out of bed to go and see the youngsters tee off.”

“I love seeing others excel and it’s good to feel that you’ve played some part in that,” says Jordan. “I like to try and build the children’s confidence. They often start off timid and shy but after a couple of sessions, they are much chattier.”

Coaching doesn’t just benefit the five to 12 year olds he helps tutor twice a week. It seems to have a positive impact on Jordan too:

“I suffer from anxiety but coaching always makes me feel happy and relaxed. It definitely helps.”

“I want to be a PGA professional coach just like my coach, Craig Thomas. I want to be able to deliver golf coaching to disabled and non-disabled people. I’ve already got my junior leader course and I’m about to take my level one.”

“But my main goal is to make golf clubs in Wales more inclusive for people with disabilities.”

And he has already made an impressive start. He actively helps shape the future of Welsh golf in a determined bid to make it more inclusive, as a member of the Golf Development Wales Youth Panel. He has also written to every single golf club in Wales setting out his plea to make the game more accessible.

Overcoming adversity every single day, he is indeed a young man with a big ambition and steely determination.

Wales Sport Awards 2015 Jordan Rosser 09.11.15 ©Steve Pope - SPORTINGWALES

Wales Sport Awards 2015
Jordan Rosser


When she discovered her coach had cancer, Lowri Haf Barker didn’t think twice about helping out with training sessions at Mold Netball Club. She was just 16.

Two years later and her coach, Chris Elson, was too unwell to carry on coaching. So it was Lowri who stepped in:

“I took over in the September. But after every session, I would talk it through with her. She coached me to be a coach. I owe so much to her.”

Bear in mind, Lowri was just 16 and coaching girls between the ages of 9 and 15. At the same time, she was studying for her GCSEs. And, of course, Chris’ her close friend and ‘absolute idol’ was losing her battle against cancer:

“She died six months later; she was only in her mid fifties. Just a week after she passed away, I achieved my level one coaching course, which I think means I was always meant to coach.”

And the biggest thing she has learned from her mentor is respect:

“When you’re young and you turn up at training, you natter with your friends. But when I started helping with sessions, I realised that when people chat, it makes the job of a coach so much harder. You need to have respect for coaches. Chris didn’t have to turn up week in, week out. It was her choice to be there to help us.”

At the young age of 21, Lowri is enjoying great success on court. In the last 12 months, she has coached two Under 15 teams to play in the Wales club finals in Cardiff. She has coached the most successful Under 13 club in the Deeside league. She has had league winners in younger age groups and a number of girls have been selected to play for county and inter-county level. She is bilingual and has helped coach the local Welsh primary and secondary students to success in Urdd competitions.

In just four years, she has increased the number of teams from six to 11 and this summer introduced under 7s into the club.

She spends 13 hours a week coaching and there’s all the paperwork and planning on top of that:

“I need to be very organised. I work at Grosvenor Street Physiotherapy and I am studying Complementary Medicine at Glyndwr University so I need to make sure I’m not falling behind.

The biggest reward, according to the young coach, is knowing the girls are enjoying netball, as much as I did with Chris. And if Lowri collects a gong at the Wales Sports Awards, it will be dedicated to her coach:

“Any award would definitely be in tribute to Chris. I owe it to her to keep the club going strong. She was an incredible lady.”

Wales Sport Awards 2015 Lowri Haf Barker 02.11.15 ©Steve Pope - SPORTINGWALES

Wales Sport Awards 2015
Lowri Haf Barker


Greg Price may be quiet and unassuming but don’t be fooled. Because behind this disguise, there hides a 25-year-old sporting crusader, determined to get as many young people as active as possible.

Indeed, when his local table tennis club looked set to close, it was Greg who stepped forward to rescue the situation:

“I had been a member of North Gwent Table Tennis Club since I was 13. The person who ran it was the longest serving member. He had been massively dedicated but when he retired, the club looked as if it might finish.”

With no other members stepping forward, it was Greg who saved the club:

“I just wasn’t willing for it to close. It is a great club and had huge potential to grow further.”

With a brand new committee and masterplan to take the club forward, the junior section now boasts more than 30 members, ten of whom have competed at national level. And it’s all because the self-confessed sports fanatic works tirelessly to improve and grow the club.

But his crusade doesn’t stop with the sport of table tennis. He is also responsible for the Ebbw Vale Badminton club whose success has simply sky rocketed in the last 12 months:

“There was no badminton club in the area. I worked with the local sports development team to set up a pay as you play session. We’ve now got 20 young players coming regularly so we’ve decided to set up a proper club. We’ve sourced a grant and now have additional coaches and leaders.

He delivers taster sessions at local schools and of course two clubs are flourishing under the watchful eye of Greg. Add to that ten hours a week as a regional table tennis officer with the odd bit of paid badminton coaching, and you’d think he was more than doing his bit for sport in the area.

But no. There’s more. When Abertillery Comprehensive were left without a 5 x 60 coach this year, it was of course Greg who took action. Delivering table tennis, badminton, racquetball and squash, he has ensured the schoolchildren don’t miss out.

“I get lots of satisfaction from seeing the kids learning, improving and enjoying sport. If they want to keep coming back then you know you’ve done a good job. We live in a pretty deprived area so it’s even more important that we provide opportunities.

“I live and breathe sport and I understand the positive influences it can have on young people.”

His multi-talented sporting ability has seen demand for his services stretch right across Blaenau Gwent. He might not wear a cape, but he is certainly a Sporting Superhero.

Wales Sport Awards 2015 Greg Price 30.10.15 ©Steve Pope - SPORTINGWALES

Wales Sport Awards 2015
Greg Price


In 2014 Jonathan Williams attended the Wales Sport Awards as a volunteer, welcoming guests to the ceremony. Fast-forward 12 months and Jonathan is now himself a finalist!

His nomination comes in response to his huge contribution to the disability sport programme in Merthyr as well as the Young Ambassador role he plays across Wales. Currently studying for an ICT degree, Jon gives up two days a week to help young people with disabilities get hooked on sport.

As a powerchair user himself, he has first-hand experience of the difficulties that can be faced:

“I was the first wheelchair user in my school, so I was the guinea pig. It is too easy for disabled people to be pushed into to the corner and asked to read a book. I would rather be doing sport and socialising.”

It took several years to diagnose Jon’s condition, Friedreich’s Ataxia, during which time he found it progressively more difficult to take part in sport. A meeting with Dan Bufton, the local development officer for Disability Sport Wales, helped to turn things around:

“At fourteen I ended up in a wheelchair and couldn’t play football or rugby any more. Dan suggested wheelchair sport to me but I didn’t take to it, I preferred the gym. However, a friendship started and he suggested I helped him and thought about becoming a Young Ambassador.”

His valuable input has helped shape the disability sport programme in his area. As well as attending consultations with service users and partners, he is a vital sounding board, as Dan Bufton explains:

“Jon and I were talking about the fact that disabled children often can’t participate in PE lessons. I suggested ringing up local schools to discuss how we could help them be inclusive. Jonathan’s comment was that we needed to actually show them what could be done.

“As a result, we developed the Paralympics Road Show. To date, we have helped over 500 pupils experience disability sport and Jonathan has inspired everyone with his journey into sport.”

In addition, Jonathan has been a key part of the Wales National Young Ambassador Steering Group, which means delivering workshops, opening conferences, and attending meetings.

Recently taking on meeting all new participants on Merthyr’s Disability Sports programme, Jon continues to be motivated by the personal satisfaction of inspiring people to get out there and do something. With his fantastic “Get it done!” attitude, Jonathan couldn’t fail to encourage others to enjoy the benefits of sport.

Wales Sport Awards 2015 Jonathan Williams 28.10.15 ©Steve Pope - SPORTINGWALES

Wales Sport Awards 2015
Jonathan Williams

Wales Sport Awards 2015 Jonathan Williams 28.10.15 ©Steve Pope - SPORTINGWALES

Wales Sport Awards 2015
Jonathan Williams


John Wilson certainly hasn’t signed up for a quiet retirement. Since stepping down as Senior Fire Officer for Mid and West Wales, he seems to have thrown himself into a full time voluntary job as a bowls coach to the visually impaired.

He first began playing bowls in the late 1980s and was hooked on the game from that day on.

But it was seven years ago, he embarked on his coaching journey:

“I happened to be at the Swansea Indoor Bowls Club at the same time as the blind bowls club. I recognised that the players needed assistance both on and off the green. I soon discovered that I had a lot to offer in terms of safety but also technique. It just started from there.”

And just as he did when he was a fire officer, he responded to a call of duty to help others. His incredible generosity of time, effort and advice has created hundreds of opportunities. For if he’s not coaching locally in Ammanford or Swansea, he is travelling to other parts of Wales to share his wisdom to other clubs.

He is a man on a mission, helping bowls clubs right across Wales be more inclusive to visually impaired players.

“The work is definitely escalating. Word is spreading and an increasing number of clubs are getting in touch wanting to find out more and how they can be more inclusive to people with disabilities.

“If it’s something they enjoy, that’s the main thing. A gentleman told me last week that he hadn’t been out of the house for three years. Someone had persuaded him to come. He said it had changed his life. That makes it all worth it.”

John also provides one to one advice, especially to new players to help them get started. He even delivers specialist coaching to individual players in the Welsh squad.

With demand increasing, he can’t be everywhere at once so he’s enlisted and instructing others to coach:

“I’m careful who I select. They need to be able to relate well to individuals. I always tell people, “They’ve lost their sight, not their brains.” You have to be a good communicator because you are their eyes on the green. A string runs down the centre of the rink and you use that to explain which angle the bowl is at.”

Selflessly giving up any free time to coach others, it probably comes as no surprise that John is surprised by his shortlisting for the Wales Sports Awards:

“In all honesty, I’m shocked and humbled. How did I manage that? All I do is to go out and help people play bowls. It’s not rocket science.”

Wales Sport Awards 2015 John Wilson 27.10.15 ©Steve Pope - SPORTINGWALES

Wales Sport Awards 2015
John Wilson


“Basketball must be in my blood. I’ve played it on my feet, then on my wheels. I’ve been a player and now I coach,” says Caroline Matthews, a 42-year old wheelchair basketball coach from Sully.

And a successful coach at that. In 2015, she led the Cardiff Celts to become the British National League’s division two champions, securing promotion to division one.

“It was the sort of season that comes along only very rarely in a career. We won every game in the second division, ended up in the playoffs and won both our games to be promoted. It was a privilege to coach the team through that.”

But of course a stellar year doesn’t come easily and is nearly always the result of hard work:

“Last year, I qualified as a Grade 3 coach. I’m only the second person in the UK to achieve that. I learned so much on the course and I ploughed it all into my work with the Celts. I’m always learning. I find it very fulfilling.”

The former Paralympian, who played at the Athens and Beijing Games, describes her volunteering commitment as “at least another part time job, if not full time” which is no mean feat, given that she is a solicitor by day.

“I’m always either preparing for games, exploring new drills and theories, planning sessions, doing video analysis, making notes after a game or helping other coaches, basically, anything I can do to help my guys perform well.”

She also has international duties as the head coach of the Wales Under 23 Wheelchair Basketball Team. In 2015, she propelled them to victory in the annual Celtic Cup for the first time in the competition’s history. The team was unbeaten with four straight wins over Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Caroline’s work at the club though is not just about titles and trophies:

“The people involved in disability sport are often facing struggles in their lives. We often see players coming in who are timid and shy but, within a few weeks, they’re demanding the ball and enjoying all the banter. They develop all sorts of everyday skills and improve their confidence. We’re a real family.

“I’m humbled I’ve been nominated and thrilled to be shortlisted. I’m incredibly nervous because people will be looking at me as an individual rather than as part of a team. Saying that, this honour is the team’s. I worked really hard to ensure the season was a success but I couldn’t have done it without the talent around me.”

Wales Sport Awards 2015 Caroline Matthews 24.10.15 ©Steve Pope - SPORTINGWALES

Wales Sport Awards 2015
Caroline Matthews

Caroline Matthews Profile


“All of us want to feel significant like we’re somebody. If I can make someone feel like that, that’s the biggest achievement.”

Meet Angeline. Or Angie, as she is better known – a 52-year-old miracle worker from Bettws in Newport. And while she is likely to brush off the lofty title, she is certainly nothing less.

Angie has set up various sporting groups for people mainly from Black, Minority and Ethnic (BME) backgrounds. She’s also the founder of a local charity. She is completing her degree at the University of South Wales in Community Development and Cross-sector Collaboration.

On top of this, she works night shifts as a care worker:

“I do have to find the time to sit down,” says Angie. “There have been times when I’ve been exhausted. Sometimes, I come off a night shift to start studying. Then swimming club and choir practice. Did I mention I sing?”

She has a passion for helping those who don’t necessarily get the same opportunities to participate in sport as others. And, according to her nominee, she is impacting on the health of the local BME community, lowering blood pressure, helping with weight loss and increased self-esteem.

One of her biggest achievements has been the establishment of’ Njuzu Community Swimming Group. She has also assisted with the formation of’ a female only BME walking group.

“I help to take some of the stress away from some of these women. I deal with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. I get them exercising and meeting people. I work with women who have been abused by their husbands. Many of these ladies feel isolated; they don’t know anybody. But once they start taking their kids swimming or they come walking, they form friendships.”

With the help of Newport Live, Newport BME Sports Forum and Sport Wales, she has set up swimming lessons for children. After sourcing a grant to hire the pool and pay for an instructor, 14 children, aged between 5 and 12, now come to her sessions once a week:

“For one reason or another,” says Angie. “Swimming in school or at regular lessons hasn’t been enough. The mother of one girl said her daughter didn’t like going to lessons because she was the only black girl in her class. They feel more comfortable in this group.”

But she’s not stopping there. She is now in the process of qualifying as a coach so she can teach. “That way, we’ll only have to pay for pool hire. It will be less expensive for the families.

“I’ve always been the sort of person to be busy. I’ve always had the heart to help and to help people improve themselves.”

Angeline Tsyihane Profile


Gwilym Lewis is coach of Llanelli Warriors RFC. But this isn’t just any ordinary rugby club.

Tucked away in Burry Port you’ll discover a rugby club of mixed abilities that’s inspiring and serving as a blueprint for similar set ups across Europe. What’s different about this team is that it actively looks to involve players who have learning disabilities (or those who simply struggle to learn). Some players might have limited mobility too.

“I used to work in a day centre,” explains Gwilym, when asked how it all started. “They had a rugby team made up of staff and clients and they asked me to play. It wasn’t long before I was helping out with the coaching.

“As the team started to get more serious, we moved the club away from the social services setting and established it as a standalone club.

“There’s not often a night I’m not doing something for the club,” says Gwilym. That’s a pretty tall order considering his demanding occupation as a Drugs and Alcohol Care Worker for Carmarthenshire County Council. So why does he do it?

“I love the challenge of coaching, especially the mix of abilities, personalities and disabilities. It is tiring sometimes but it’s brilliant. I love seeing the boys socialising. Parents will say how the club has improved their child’s confidence. We took the team to see Scrum V being filmed the other day and a player said it had been the happiest day of his life. That makes all the hard work worth it.”

The Warriors currently have 25 players who have mental conditions and disabilities such as autism, ADHD, Down’s Syndrome and cerebral palsy.

“In Llanelli, everyone plays rugby and everyone talks about it. So it really helps with social integration. They have stories to tell other people of matches they’ve played, tackles they’ve made and trips they’ve been on. They can relate to others and hold their own in conversations.”

The club played 19 fixtures last season, the majority against ‘mainstream’ rugby sides and – although the philosophy is more about inclusion and experience than winning games – they notched up an impressive 11 victories.

Disabled players also assist in the running of the club, whether it’s coaching, officiating, a committee role or fundraising.

Having advised and helped set up integrated sides in England, Scotland and across Europe, Gwilym has been described as a pioneer – a term he quickly shrugs off, crediting any achievement to the club itself:

“I think the concept of the Warriors disabled and non-disabled players playing against and alongside each other is pioneering, especially in rugby as it’s a game of such physicality. It’s been a privilege to play a part in the journey of the Warriors and in setting up other mixed abilities team in other parts of the world.”

Wales Sport Awards 2015 Gwilym Lewis 25.10.15 ©Steve Pope - SPORTINGWALES

Wales Sport Awards 2015
Gwilym Lewis

Wales Sport Awards 2015 Gwilym Lewis 25.10.15 ©Steve Pope - SPORTINGWALES

Wales Sport Awards 2015
Gwilym Lewis