Sport

UKAF Awards Recognises Best In Forces Sport

England manager Gareth Southgate joined the military community for the UKAF Sport Awards ceremony.

The UK Armed Forces Sports Board has honoured its top sportsmen and women at the RAF Club in London.

Guest of Honour and England football manager Gareth Southgate watched on - but it was rugby, athletics and netball that took the top prizes.

The 33rd annual awards continued the tradition in naming the top sportsman, sportswoman, team and official of the past year.

Reacting to the event, Mr Southgate said it was "an honour" to be asked to present winners and nominees with their prizes.

WATCH: England boss praises 'inspiring' forces athletes.

Sportswoman Of The Year

This year's list of talented nominees made life extremely tough for the board.

Swinging the Royal Navy women's golf efforts in the right direction Lt Commander Lauren Hulston, was joined by RAF star triathlete Flying Officer Hannah Dodwell and Army athletics star Sergeant Danielle Hodkinson.

In the end, Sgt Hodgkinson took the category prize from afar.

The track star was unable to attend the ceremony, currently training in South Africa with Olympic stars Steve Cram and Laura Weightman.

Sportsman Of The Year

Amongst those contesting the men's prize were Army Boxing's Lance Sgt Natty Ngwenya and the RAF's Sgt Pete Ellis - a phenomenal  triathlete and duathlon international.

Bringing the award back to the Navy (and club side Northampton Saints) is Fijian international and Premiership Rugby star, Logistic Supply Chain Able Seaman Sam Matavesi.

"It's special, very special," he said.

"When you get something like this, you respect what's happened before and what you're doing now."

The Royal Navy's Sam Matavesi became this year's Sportsman of the Year.

Official Of The Year

Honouring those who make it all happen on and off the pitch, track and course, years of experience filled the nominees list. 

Wing Commander Sam Moss, unable to attend, was recognised for his continued coaching presence in the RAF cricket system.

The Army's 'Mr Rugby League', Lieutenant Colonel Nav Naivalurua was also in the running.

In the end, the Navy’s Chief Petty Officer Scott Jackson picked up the award for his work, having climbed through the professional ranks and leagues as a football referee.

The Navy referee said he was honoured to edge out Lt Col Nav Naivalurua.

"I looked at my life and I just said: 'No chance,' his career stretches longer than I've been alive," he said, hoping his award will inspire other personnel to take on officiating roles.

Navy’s Chief Petty Officer Scott Jackson accepting his award.

Team of the Year

Decided in advance, the UKAF women's netball side took top prize for their stunning display at the 2019 Netball Europe invitational.

Defeating all competition on the side's debut at the tournament, the team now looks to build on success despite limited opportunity to train together.

Team captain Sergeant Nordia Masters said: "Achieving this as a team was just a great feeling.

"Whoever we have to work with we will work with... we're definitely going to be working hard to catapult this team further."

BFBS Sport reported live from the ceremony:

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