This year, the Birmingham Sports Awards, which are to take place on 19 September, are looking for the region’s very best and brightest sporting talents.
Whether a professional or amateur sports person, our very youngest sporting heroes, a member of a successful team or club or one of the important people who work tirelessly to support a wide range of sporting activities, we want to hear about their work and achievements.
The nomination process is open until August 2 and we want to know from our readers who they think are the region’s biggest assets to the sporting community.
Each different award category has been sponsored by a different West Midlands business or organisation, highlighting the links between sports and business and the ways that these two sectors can work together for the benefit of the wider community.
Birmingham City Council continue support of sporting excellence
The Birmingham Sports Awards have received support from a huge array of different organisations, including the backing of Birmingham City Council. The city council has a strong and proud heritage of championing sport; from its work with Birmingham’s premier and community sports clubs, to the staging and hosting of international and world sporting events.
This has gained Birmingham the valuable status of ‘An International City of Sport’ and the city council now wants to use this strong foundation to go on and achieve even more in sport, reaping the health, social and economic benefits that this brings.
Birmingham City Council is sponsoring the Volunteer of the Year Award, an important category that recognises the many people who give up their own time to promote and support the region’s sporting activity. The Sports Awards have been designed to highlight all areas of great sporting achievement and Steve Hollingworth commented on the council’s involvement and their sponsorship of this particular award category.
He said: "We are passionate about sport and appreciate this opportunity to be associated with such a high profile event. It’s also a great chance to capture the pride and spirit generated by the incredible sporting achievement seen in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, something that inspired a generation to be more involved in sport."
He went on to say: "It is important that we secure a lasting sporting legacy for our city and region and one of the greatest legacies we can have is a growing, highly skilled and motivated sport workforce, hence the importance that we attach to this award.
"Voluntary sports clubs and individuals, who give so much of their time in a wide range of sport volunteering roles, are the lifeblood of sport in Birmingham and throughout the West Midlands as a whole. It is important that we recognise and celebrate their achievements and maintain their involvement in sport."
Sport is such a large part of a region’s offering, raising its profile and forging an enviable reputation of excellence in this field. The West Midlands and Birmingham in particular, directly contributed to the success of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as Steve Hollingworth explained: "Our prestigious sports clubs and major sporting events in the city help to profile Birmingham and the region on the national and international stage; Usain Bolt 'bigging up Birmingham' was a classic example of this.
"Profiling sport and sporting events can help lever inward investment, help develop and maintain international business relationships and profile the city as a visitor destination."
University Aids Search for Talent at Sports Awards
The University of Birmingham one of the region’s most high profile contributors to sporting success, with a huge range of teams, societies, facilities and professional athletes all involved with its sporting community.
Offering their support to the Sports Awards, Birmingham University have chosen to sponsor the Sportsman of the Year award, a prestigious accolade that highlights an individual who has made a substantial contribution their support and the success of the West Midlands as a whole.
Glendon O’Donovan , Marketing Manager at Birmingham University commented on the impact of sport: "The exact value of the impact [of sport] is often difficult to measure.
"For this reason we have an on-going project at the University on the legacies of sports mega-events, including the social and economic impact of the Olympics, FIFA World Cup and so-on. Five broad and dominant ‘legacies’ or ‘benefits’ have been noted and the research sets out to find evidence to support them."
The university have chosen to sponsor their category as part of their ongoing dedication to nurturing, supporting and developing elite athletes, helping them to forge strong careers and record excellent results that have a positive impact on the city and surrounding area.
Glendon O’Donovan commented: "For over 100 years, the University of Birmingham has played a major part in the success of the city, the region and the world. For almost as long, we have been recognised globally for our support and development of sport, exercise and movement.
As a top three university for sport in the UK (British Universities and Colleges Sport Championship), our cutting edge research and work in this area is ensuring increased participation in sport and physical activity, transforming our talented students into elite athletes and pushing the boundaries of performance. From our world-class academics to our outstanding students – we inspire success, change lives and transform society.”
He continued: "Not surprisingly, the fastest people on the planet chose the Universality of Birmingham to complete their preparations for the London Olympics. Team Jamaica, including world and Olympic champion sprinters Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake rated Birmingham as their best pre-Olympic training base to-date."
Birmingham Sport Supported by RSM Tenon
Leading financial advisory firm RSM Tenon have provided their support to the Birmingham Sports Awards, strengthening their investment in the region’s reputation for sporting success, as well as its history of producing some of the country’s leading sports stars. For the inaugural Sports Awards, the firm have chosen to sponsor the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Peter Whitehead of RSM Tenon in Birmingham commented: "In choosing to sponsor the Lifetime Achievement Award, we are looking to recognise and reinforce in the potential winner just those very traits – to be recognised for excellence and to be the best you can be in your chosen area of expertise."
"We are a key player in the Birmingham market and believe that our support for this particular event is an important demonstration of our commitment to the wider Birmingham community and marketplace."
He went on to say: "We support similar awards in the East Midlands and it seemed like an ideal opportunity to expand upon and continue that support and key relationship and lend our support to those who inspire us all and who help to lift our spirits in times of difficulty with their spectacular sporting performances and achievements."
The West Midlands’ extensive sporting community can be seen in the huge array of different clubs and organisations, all contributing to the region’s overall success.
Peter Whitehead said: "The existence of key local football teams, a world renowned and quality cricket ground, the Priory tennis club and other key sports arena’s and facilities are a key attraction for the city, bringing income, employment and much needed leisure distraction for a hard-working and important economic UK city. We are the Second City in the UK.
"Our local football teams which are the most visible and attract the greatest attention and following with their Premier League trials and tribulations, but we must not forget the high profile and wonderful spectacle cricket matches that get played out at Edgbaston.
"The international tennis fraternity also hold the Priory in very high regard and we host other fantastic athletics and sporting events."
There are clear links between business and sport and Peter Whitehead explained the links between the work of his own organisation and that of sport.
"In a difficult economy of constant change, challenge and increased regulation and bureaucracy, we seek to advise our clients and to assist them to find the right track, to clear the bar to their success and to reach their maximum potential.
"I am not sure anybody else would see accountancy as quite the sporting challenge it can undoubtedly be, but to beat the many and varied timescales and deadlines and finally break through the red tape you have to be at the top of your game - and we are."