Students from Wales’ further education colleges re-wrote the record books and reached new heights in female team sports at last weekend’s AoC Sport National Championships in Newcastle.
Three of the Welsh Colleges women’s teams, competing against 11 other national and regional squads from around the UK, won podium positions in the blue riband rugby, netball and hockey competitions.
The women’s rugby team started the ball rolling on Saturday by retaining their title for the 8th consecutive year, despite strong competition particularly from the team representing the South East of England. This inspirational performance was led by coach and former Welsh International Jenny Davies (Coleg Menai) and Daryl Morgan (WRU / Scarlets Ladies) with players from five colleges involved: Coleg Sir Gâr, Coleg y Cymoedd, Bridgend College, Pembrokeshire College and NPTC Group of Colleges.
Coach Jenny Davies said: “Daryl and I are extremely proud of the girls who demonstrated some excellent rugby and performed to such a high standard, remaining positive throughout the day. They were a pleasure to coach.
“The standard of rugby is improving and all teams demonstrated composure and scored some exciting tries but also put some big hits in. It was a privilege to be involved with this talented group of individuals and I’m certain that some of them will go onto represent Wales. The development of rugby in Wales is looking promising.”
Not to be outdone by the rugby success, the Welsh Colleges teams represented by Gower College Swansea led the way in both the netball and hockey competitions.
On Sunday, the netball team from Gower College Swansea built on their unbeaten run from Saturday by winning highly competitive games against hot favourites for the competition, Hartpury College and Exeter College. This is the first time a team from Wales has won the netball competition at the national championships, with the girls demonstrating a great deal of skill, composure and teamwork to wrestle the title from their English counterparts.
Gower College Swansea Netball Academy Coach Sarah Lewis said: “The girls played unbelievably well together, demonstrating trust, hard work and team cohesion. It is the proudest moment of my coaching career and a weekend I will never forget. The girls represented both the college and their country in the best possible way, bring the gold medal home as AoC Champions.”
Finally, with a strong track record at the championships, Gower College Swansea hockey academy didn’t disappoint, bringing home the 3rd major medal for the Welsh team at the championships. Following a strong start on Saturday, the hockey team finished strong, winning a silver medal in another of the showpiece events for women’s sport.
Sport Coordinator at Welsh Colleges Sport, Rob Baynham, said: “These achievements demonstrate a massive coup for Wales, with the girls leading the way in three of the most competitive events at the championships. Competing against some of the top academies in English college sport, chosen from regions with double the number of colleges in Wales, the girls have set a new benchmark for college sport in Wales.
“The aim now has to be to build on this achievement across Welsh Colleges Sport and use the results from Newcastle as inspiration for other female students involved in further education sport.”
Sport Wales Director of Elite Sport, Brian Davies, said: “If we are to keep producing top class talent in Wales then we need talented athletes taking part in strong competitions. These are excellent achievements showing that our young people can shine and perform against the best in the UK.”
Information on the championships is available on http://www.aocsportchamps.org/