Welwyn coach is the leader of the pack

PUBLISHED: 14:01 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 21:23 26 October 2009

TONIE ODENIYI (centre)

TONIE ODENIYI (centre)

GRASSROOTS rugby coaching of the highest order was recognised at the fourth annual borough sports awards. Welwyn Rugby Club s Tonie Odeniyi collected the Coach of the Year trophy for his work with the Under-7s and Under-8s over the past couple of seasons.

GRASSROOTS rugby coaching of the highest order was recognised at the fourth annual borough sports awards.

Welwyn Rugby Club's Tonie Odeniyi collected the Coach of the Year trophy for his work with the Under-7s and Under-8s over the past couple of seasons.

Odeniyi's dedication and enthusiasm in nurturing the next generation of Jonny Wilkinsons won the judges over and he collected the trophy on the night from former winner Derek Beaumont, founder of the elite Beaumont Diving Academy.

Others up for the award were fellow Welwyn rugby coach Phil Boon and Herts Phoenix's Colin Gaynor.

Tonie said: "It was a big surprise winning the award and I'm very honoured to be voted as coach of the year in Welwyn Hatfield."

He also paid tribute, both during the ceremony itself and afterwards, to the other junior coaches at the Hobbs Way club and in particular Phil Boon, who was also nominated for the award.

"The success of the Welwyn Under-8s squad is very much a team effort and I'd like to acknowledge the contribution of the rest of the coaching team, Phil Boon, Garry Blackmore, David Morgan, Neill Hughes, Conor Byrne, Richard Mildren, and Nigel Parker," said the top coach.

"A special mention to Phil Boon, who has played a major role in ensuring the squad plays a consistently high level against teams not only within the region, but also over the south of England.

"I'd also like to acknowledge all the children in the Under-8s squad, who continually turn up with enthusiasm, with a little help from the parents, whatever the weather on Sunday mornings to play rugby.

"It has been a pleasure working with such a great bunch of kids.

"Finally, I'd like wish all involved in sports within Welwyn Hatfield a very successful 2008."

Colin Gaynor was a close runner-up after coaching three girls into the top five of the UK Under-17 women's rankings for the 80m hurdles last season.

A specialist hurdles coach at the Gosling track in WGC, Colin's crew of Helen van Kempen, his own daughter Stephanie Gaynor and Claire Humphries finished the year ranked two, three and five in the country.

"The success in 2007 of the young athletes coached by Colin Gaynor is quite simply testament to his enthusiasm and coaching ability," said club secretary Richard Bloom.

l See next week's WHTimes for details on the winners of the School Team of the Year, Young Leader of the Year, Teacher of the Year, plus Club of the Year and Team of the Year.

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