Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Inspirational women in the mix for Game Changer honour

Gail Redmond, Bethany Firth MBE, Gemma Begley and Ashley Hutton are the four nominees for the game Changers award.
Gail Redmond, Bethany Firth MBE, Gemma Begley and Ashley Hutton are the four nominees for the game Changers award.
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

As 2020 kicks off, the countdown is well and truly on to this year’s Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards ceremony in Belfast’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on January 20.

Back for the third year is the Game Changer Award, sponsored by Electric Ireland, which celebrates the hard work and dedication of an individual woman who has been a real game changer when it comes to pushing forward female sports in Northern Ireland.

The nominees for this year’s award are Ashley Hutton, who this year won her 100th cap playing for the Northern Ireland senior women’s football team, Paralympic champion Bethany Firth MBE, former Tyrone captain Gemma Begley and Irish FA women’s development manager Gail Redmond.

Ashley has been a driving force for her team as she continues to encourage and support the rest of the women, particularly the younger members of the squad, to give their all on the pitch.

Arguably the stand-out moment of 2019 for Hutton was hitting her century of caps by scoring the equalising goal for Northern Ireland in their 2-2 draw against Wales in a Euro 2021 qualifier.

Firth has already had a very successful year after being named on the BBC’s 100 Women 2019 where she was one of 13 sportswomen to make it onto the list. Bethany is a brilliant advocate for women’s sport as she continually raises the profile of Northern Ireland through her determination and hard work, which this year saw her take home two gold medals at the World Para-swimming Championships in London.

Our next nominee, Begley, announced her inter-county retirement at the beginning of this year having helped lead her Tyrone team to claim the All-Ireland Intermediate title in 2018.

Gemma’s work doesn’t finish on the pitch, however, as she is fully dedicated to her role at the Women’s Gaelic Players’ Association. Gemma helps support girls and women to reach their potential and excel in women’s football and camogie right across Ireland.

The final nominee for the Electric Ireland Game Changer Award is the Irish FA’s Redmond. Gail is the women’s development manager and has committed the last 10 years of her career to ensuring that the women’s game continues to grow in Northern Ireland.

Gail most recently received an Honorary Fellowship from Northern Regional College for her work at every level of the women’s game, from grassroots through to senior level.

Clare McAllister, Northern Ireland residential manager at Electric Ireland, commented: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the Game Changer Award for its third year at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards. There are four incredibly strong and motivated women nominated who have all excelled in their different areas of sport.

“The Game Changer Award gives us the opportunity to celebrate women like last year’s winner, Irish hockey star Shirley McCay, for the incredible work they do both on and off the pitch to ensure that all girls and women in Northern Ireland have the potential to achieve their sporting dreams.

“We want to wish the four nominees for this year’s award the best of luck and we can’t wait to find out who will claim the Game Changer Award for 2019!”