Getting schoolchildren into rugby league might sound like a fool’s errand to some but the tireless efforts of Eastbourne’s Pierre Aghabala have seen him nominated for the Gillette Community Coach of the Year award.
The 24-year-old, who attended Ratton School, has spent the last four years working as a South London Community Rugby League coach after a knee injury ended a promising playing career while he was at university.
Aghabala coaches a number of different teams, including the Croydon Hurricanes and the Brixton Bulls, while also scouting out the best talent in the area to try and push them through into the London Broncos Academy.
And Aghabala admitted the nomination from Gillette, which recognises that coaching is an essential part of the future successes of sport in the UK, will have far-reaching consequences.
“This really is a massive achievement,” he said. “With this job I really feel like I am making a difference.
“These are some of the most troubled kids in the country and we are giving them an outlet for their frustration.
“It’s not exactly an easy sell, a sport like rugby league where you could easily end up with a broken nose, or football with the temptation of that golden contract at the end of the tunnel.
“But we have worked so hard to try and promote the sport and we are really starting to see the benefit of that now.
“I’ve worked with more than 3000 young participants, registering 65 new players at under-12 in the past year alone.”
The UK Coaching Awards, supported by Gillette, will this year take place at the Lancaster Hotel in London on the evening of November 20.
And Aghabala admits he cannot wait to see what the evening has in store.
“To just be nominated was an amazing feeling,” he added. “But to be picked as the regional winner is just a real shock. I didn’t expect this at all.
“Recognition like this is not at all why we do this job but it’s nice all the same and helps to promote the hard work we are doing.”
Gillette’s support of the UK Coaching Awards follows its partnership with sports coach UK earlier this year as part of the Gillette 2012 ‘Great Starts’ campaign.
Together with sports coach UK, they are committed to supporting and celebrating coaching in the UK.
For information on how to apply for a coaching grant go to www.facebook.com/GilletteUK/