Belfast Telegraph

Stockdale set the highest of standards for George Best Award


Class act: Jacob Stockdale capped super year with George Best Breakthrough Award
Class act: Jacob Stockdale capped super year with George Best Breakthrough Award
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

The Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards are now just three days away, where the great and the good of Northern Ireland sport will be recognised for their amazing achievements.

However, not only will we get to appreciate the incredible talents of those who have achieved on the biggest stage, we will also take a look at those who made an impact for the first time in 2018.

That will be reflected in the George Best Breakthrough Award, which will be sponsored for the second year by Better Gyms (GLL).

The award will recognise a sporting individual who has made a spectacular rise during the past 12 months and has achieved national recognition.

To buy tickets for the awards ceremony, visit

Last year the award was won by Ulster winger Jacob Stockdale, who announced himself at provincial level with some eye-catching performances in the Guinness PRO14 and European Champions Cup.

This year he has gone from strength to strength, becoming one of the world's top rugby players, performing superbly for both Ulster and now Ireland, for whom he set a Six Nations try-scoring record.

The 2018 winner will hope they can replicate that kind of success as they go forward in their career and will have achieved similar in their breakthrough year to what Stockdale did back in 2017.

It is appropriate that this award carries the name of one of Northern Ireland's greatest ever sporting heroes, George Best, given his incredible breakthrough in his career.

The footballing icon made his breakthrough with Manchester United, going on to become one of the greatest players to grace the planet, winning the European Cup and First Division with United, as well as the Ballon d'Or individually.

Sponsors GLL is a charitable social enterprise that operates under the Better brand working to provide the best leisure services available for the people of Belfast. As a not for profit organisation, it reinvests all profits back into the community by developing staff, investing in leisure centres, supporting young athletes, and increasing participation in sports in both older and younger people.

For the second year in a row, GLL proudly sponsors the Breakthrough Player category, showing an ongoing commitment to the promotion of sport and physical activity for the local community.

Belfast City Council's Leisure Transformation Programme (LTP) is a 10-year, £105 million investment to improve leisure facilities and services across the city.

This is about building and creating first-class leisure centres in Belfast that are attractive, welcoming, efficient, cutting-edge, and value for money.

GLL is passionate about offering young people the chance to participate in sport at first-class facilities and gain access to coaching, training and sports education, ensuring more people in Belfast are more active more often.

To buy tickets for the awards ceremony, visit