England Women’s Hockey team have been crowned Vitality Team of the Year at the Sunday Times & Sky Sports Sportswoman of the Year Awards.
Now in their 28th year, the awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding contribution to sport made by elite performers, coaches, administrators, community volunteers and inspirational women.
This summer the team came from behind to win the Unibet EuroHockey Championships defeating World and Olympic Champions the Netherlands on shootout. Tonight, they Chelsea Women’s Football Team, England Women’s Football Team and rowing pair Helen Glover and Heather Stanning.
Alex Danson, speaking after the award was presented told England Hockey: “We’re absolutely delighted to win the Vitality Team of the Year Award. It’s an absolutely fantastic achievement. It’ a testament to the hard work the girls have put in every single day.”
“This award really showcases the high quality of sportswomen out there at the moment. The Chelsea and England ladies have done amazingly and Helen and Heather are phenomenal as a pair. To take the award ahead of them is incredible. This is for everyone who’s pulled on an England shirt for us and for everyone who voted and supported us. We couldn’t do it without you.”
World champion Jessica Ennis-Hill won Sportswoman of the Year award. The 29-year-old, who also won in 2012, claimed her second World Championship heptathlon title in August, only 13 months after giving birth to her son.
Cyclist Lizzie Armitstead was second and skeleton racer Lizzy Yarnold third.
Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith Young Sportswoman, and Jordanne Whiley the Disability Sportswoman of the Year.
Londoner Asher-Smith, 19, became the first British woman to run under 11 seconds, on 25 July this year.
Then, in the final of the 200m at the World Championships, she broke a 31-year-old British record by posting 22.07 seconds, finishing fifth in the process.
Birmingham’s Whiley, 23, who suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease, won the US Open women’s tennis wheelchair title in September in her first major singles final, having already captured the Australian Open and Wimbledon doubles crowns.
Midlands football coach Annie Zaidi won the Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration. Zaidi, is the first South Asian and Muslim woman in her region to acquire a Level Two coaching certification badge from the Football Association and has recently coached the QPR under-21s team during a placement at the club and was the lucky recipient of a personal message from David Beckham.
The Community Award was given to Liverpool Homeless Football Club, originally set up to support homeless men before a women’s group was opened in 2012. Fara Williams, England’s most capped footballer, who has been homeless herself, has been a key supporter of the club’s community work.
The first event held was the ‘Women Against Domestic Abuse Cup’. The club helped to highlight that during the football season domestic abuse increases by 19 per cent. It has more than 1,000 member and is run entirely by volunteers.
England cricket legend Enid Bakewell has won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Sunday Times and Sky Sports Sportswomen of the Year Awards.
The 74-year-old former England women’s all-rounder collected the prize at the annual awards ceremony broadcast live from Sky Studios this evening. She has become the eleventh recipient of the award, which recognises a lifetime of sporting success, and is the second women’s cricketer, following Baroness Rachael Heyhoe-Flint in 2009, to be recognised. Previous winners also include Dame Mary Peters (2001), Billie Jean King (2007) and Chairman of the Youth Sport Trust, Baroness Sue Campbell (2012).
The prize is the latest honour for one of England women’s greatest ever players, having already been inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame (alongside Brian Lara) in 2012 and named as one of Wisden’s five greatest ever female cricketers in 2014.
Enid Bakewell said: “I am very honoured and proud to have won this award. The Sportswomen of the Year awards are such a wonderful celebration of everything that is great about women’s sport. My international playing career was during an era when women’s cricket often went unnoticed, so it is amazing to attend events like this and to be surrounded by such inspirational women from across the sporting landscape.”
England women’s captain, Charlotte Edwards, added: “I first met Enid over 23 years ago as a twelve year old when I was selected to play for the England women’s under-19s and she was the team coach. She was an inspiration to me then and still is now; she is always someone that I will look up to. Her career achievements are just incredible – the stats speak for themselves. To score a hundred for your country in a World Cup final is something that every player dreams of, and is definitely something that I still hope to emulate.
“Her love and support for the women’s game is both insatiable and infectious. She is possibly the England women’s team’s biggest fan, our one-woman Barmy Army, and I am never surprised to hear her shouting encouragement from the boundary rope, wherever we are in the world. Put simply, Enid is one of England’s all-time cricket greats, and we are all so grateful to her and the rest of her generation for laying the foundations for the professional women’s game today.”
During a fourteen year international career, Bakewell’s Test match batting average of nearly 60 included three hundreds in her first five matches, and in her final Test appearance in 1979 against the West Indies, she became the first England player, male or female, to score a century and take ten wickets in the same match. In 23 One Day Internationals she took 25 wickets with her left-arm spin and scored over 500 runs, including a memorable 118 and bowling figures of 2 for 28, to help England win the final of inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1973 against Australia.
Congratulations to all the recipients and all the nominees – an inspirational array of talent!