Big winners at first college sports awards

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A total of 17 awards were presented at West Nottinghamshire College’s inaugural Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) Awards.

Categories ranged from player of the year across football, basketball and rugby, to student, coach, team and volunteer of the year.

More than 80 guests including staff, students and sponsors, attended the event at the Mansfield college’s restaurant, Refined.

The evening’s big winner — the college’s Sports Personality of the Year — was A-level biology, chemistry and psychology student Sarah Maqbool.

She was the driving force behind the college’s first equestrian society. The 20-year-old, from Nottingham, formed WNC Equestrian alongside classmates last year.

Weekly, subsidised horse-riding lessons take place at Fairview Farm Equestrian Centre, Ravenshead. They are available to fellow students.

Society president Sarah’s goal was to “break down the barrier between loving a particular sport yet being unable to afford to do it.”

She said: “If you’re really interested in a sport, especially one as amazing as horse-riding, I firmly believe that one of the worst obstacles to have is financial difficulty or not being able to afford the lessons.

“My main aim was to encourage participation from people of all backgrounds and bring a bit of the equestrian spirit to West Notts.

“I just want students to know that if they’re interested in horse-riding, the option is open to them and there’s a place they can go and develop as a rider.”

As well as taking part in many fundraising activities at college, Sarah recently became one of only 70 females in the UK to become a Sport England This Girl Can ambassador. The role is designed to encourage other females to participate in physical activity and to help them overcome the fear of judgement, which often stops women and girls from joining in with sport or exercise.

Describing the SPOTY accolade as an unbelievable honour, Sarah added: “I’d set my hopes on the equestrian society winning the team award and never imagined for a moment that I’d win the overall award.

“This truly is a collective effort, but on a personal level, I’ve sacrificed quite a lot to get the society up-and-running and balance it with my studies.

“But it’s all worth it when you see the students develop their riding skills and gain confidence, with a smile on their face.”