It’s Volunteers’ Week, a time of year where those who give up their time for nothing can be recognised. Earlier this year, we recognised one particular volunteer – Beth Bennett, the coach of the National Team- by awarding her with a prize named in her honour. The Beth Bennett Award for Outstanding Services to Scottish Korfball will be awarded every two years to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to our sport in Scotland.

Beth Bennett became coach of the Scottish national korfball team in 2007, shortly after moving to Edinburgh and having coached Nottingham City 1 for three years.  With the SKA having emerged as a unique entity only at the beginning of that year, Beth was given the task of making a mark with a Scottish team on the European and World stage for the very first time.  Proudly leading the squad to South Africa to participate in the African Regional Championship (following the cancellation of the Commonwealth and Friends Championship), Beth’s team won a raft of games against local opposition, while also playing a full international game with the South Africans (losing 23 v 9).

Beth Bennett with the Beth Bennett Award for Outstanding Services to Scottish Korfball

Beth Bennett with the Beth Bennett Award for Outstanding Services to Scottish Korfball

Building on that debut, the Scots headed to the 2010 European Championship – the first such event as an individual team.  A tough group featuring Belgium, Catalonia and Poland proved to be a baptism of fire, while further narrow losses to Wales and Turkey looked like leaving Scotland despondent; but a reversed result in a second game with Turkey lifted Scotland off the bottom to finish a creditable 15th place.

Beth’s Scottish team pushed on at the 2014 European Championship, where the squad surprised many within European korfball by finishing in 11th place, with victories over Slovakia, Ireland (twice) and Turkey.  Just one place shy of a slot at the World Championship, the progress made by Beth with the team over four years was evident.

In addition to her role as national team coach, Beth was also the SKA’s Development Officer for a time, among other things securing valuable funding for initial SKA equipment.  She was also responsible for the initial end of season parties- a tradition which, having disappeared for a few years, may well be making a comeback next year.  Further, Beth is in the process of accrediting as a Coaching Assessor, with a view to providing valuable developmental support to Scottish coaches in years to come.

On receiving the award, which was presented at the Edinburgh International Korfball tournament in January, Beth said ” I’m honoured by the SKA’s dedication of an award; our sport wouldn’t run without the many volunteers who are active behind the scenes and I have been lucky enough to work with groups of talented players and dedicated supporters over the time I’ve been with the SKA”.

The SKA would like to again thank Beth for her services to Scottish korfball, and would like to extend those thanks to every volunteer who has helped to grow our sport over the years, as coaches, referees and administrators.  The efforts of every single volunteer are recognised and valued.