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Who's your unsung rugby hero of the year? How to nominate your top volunteer for SONI award

The winning volunteers will receive a £1,000 bursary for their club

There’s still time to enter volunteers from your rugby club for the SONI Community Champions Award as the deadline has been extended to Monday, February 19.

Now in its third year, the Community Champions Award is spearheaded by SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) in partnership with Ulster Rugby.

Who is the award for?

The award recognises and rewards individuals who dedicate a huge amount of energy and time to their local rugby club.

There are two categories to enter; the adult secton for volunteers who work in adult rugby (men's, women’s or disability) or the youth and mini rugby section for volunteers who work within youth and mini rugby including youth disability teams.

The Community Champions Award is open to all types of volunteers including coaches, fundraisers, grounds staff, club committee members, the mini bus driver to name but a few roles. All volunteers are eligible to enter if they have been involved with their club for at least six months.

Organisers are calling for all rugby clubs to nominate one of their ‘champions’ - the person whose club relies on them and who puts their heart and soul into the club.

Lynne Reid, Financial Controller of SONI said: "Over the previous two years we have witnessed first-hand just how vital volunteers are to the game and have seen some amazing entries for the Community Champions Award. Once again we’ve had a range of really strong entries, but we are keen for all clubs to be represented and for all volunteers to be in with a chance of not only winning a great prize for their club, but also receiving the recognition they deserve.

“In most cases the domestic rugby clubs the volunteers are affiliated to would simply not be able to operate without them. SONI is truly committed to recognising the efforts of those valuable members of the community whose efforts not only allow their local clubs to flourish, but also often establish rugby clubs at the very heart of the community they reside in.”

What does the club get if a volunteer wins?

Each category winner will receive £1,000 bursary for their local club and two runners up will be awarded £500.

Barry Willis, Acting Domestic Rugby Manager at Ulster Rugby said: "I’d urge every local club to take advantage of the deadline extension and get nominating at least one volunteer to be in with a chance of winning a fantastic £1,000 bursary. It’s hugely important that volunteers are recognised for their amazing and selfless efforts. This year we’d like to remind everyone that previous entrants can be nominated again – there’s every chance they might win. Don’t miss out!”

How do I nominate a volunteer?

The deadline for entries is now Monday, February 19. Anyone can nominate by filling out the online application form right here.

For more information on SONI visit www.soni.ltd.uk or follow on twitter @soni_ltd.

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