An inspirational sports coach from Peckham reached the finals for Disability Coach of the Year last week, writes Nora Selina Helal…

Among hundreds of nominations, Joanne Sykes outshined the rest and was named a finalist for her dedication to her multi-sport programme with London youth charity, Greenhouse Sports, based at Highshore School on Monday, October 22, 2018.

Greenhouse Sports CEO John Herriman said: “Coach Jo’s programme at Highshore is about more than getting the young people active.

“She works closely with her students to increase confidence, independence, and leadership – skills that impact all areas of their lives.

“This is what makes her so inspirational.”

In one year alone Ms Sykes has delivered over 800 hours of coaching to more than 100 pupils from the school on her multi-sport programme, funded by players of The People’s Postcode Lottery.

She said: “I’m delighted to be shortlisted.

“It’s really great to be recognised for the work that we do.”

Statistics show that only per cent  of children with special educational needs and disability meet the Chief Medical Officer’s activity guidelines, compared to 22 per cent for non-disabled young people.

Ten students on Ms Sykes’s programme are now training to be sports leaders, enabling them to provide sport sessions to a nearby primary school.

Ms Sykes also won the Jack Petchey Award for Outstanding Leadership last year.

Greenhouse Sports coaches like Ms Sykes deliver over 50 sports for development programmes in mainstream schools, SEND schools and community clubs across London.

The aim of the multi-sport programme focuses on building pupils’ sporting abilities, fitness and life skills such as resilience, team work, leadership, communication, self-discipline and confidence.

The national coaching award recognises coaches who work with young people to encourage sport participation and will be presented at the UK Coaching Awards ceremony at the Honourable Artillery Company in London on Thursday, November 29, 2018.

For more information on Greenhouse Sports, visit