- Minehead Barbarians stalwart nominated by England and Bristol full back Danielle Waterman
- "For me it is all about making a difference and I wanted to encourage more children to play" – Dionne Jones
Photo: Robbie Hamblin
Nominated for the Unsung Hero award by England and Bristol full back Danielle Waterman, who used to be a junior with the Minehead Barbarians, 32-year old Dionne Jones has worked tirelessly to bring women’s and junior rugby to the club.
As well as promoting the sport on the pitch, she also helped to secure £100,000 worth of new facilities to cope with the increase in numbers at the west Somerset club.
Dionne coaches tag rugby to boys and girls under eight, and there are regularly around 300 children, plus parents, at the club on a Sunday. She also set up the girls' under 9s to under 15s age groups, taking them to tournaments across the county, and has visited every primary school in the region to promote the sport. On top of all of this, she also runs the women's team, which currently has 30 members and are looking to join a league in the next few seasons.
"Being nominated for this award was a huge surprise for me”, she said, “and when I was told I’d won it, I just couldn’t believe it. For me it is all about making a difference and I wanted to encourage more children to play by showing them that ruby is fun.
"I work with some amazing coaches, players, volunteers and parents and it is a real team effort here at Minehead Barbarians.
"Encouraging the girls to play was something I really wanted to do. But it is about more than rugby; hopefully it helps them with their fitness, their body image and their confidence. It means they're part of something. School life can be hard for a teenage girl and knowing that you've got your team who will look after you is great."
RFU Community Rugby Coach Simon Jenkins is one person who sings Dionne’s praises: “Dionne has been great to work with as she is so proactive and enthusiastic. I have been able to support her by providing help at the Easter and summer camps for girls which she organised, and through some school delivery.
“I also convinced her to go for her level 2 coaching award and she passed this with flying colours. What she has done for girls’ rugby in the area particularly is nothing short of amazing and we joke that we wish we had a Dionne at every club!”
Dionne will now go forward for the national Unsung Hero award, which will be presented at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year event in Leeds on Sunday, December 15.