Award nomination for inspirational teenager

Celine Watts
Celine Watts

Enthusiastic PE teachers inspired a Hemel Hempstead teenager to become a sports ‘nut’, and now she’s passing on the baton by studying to become a PE teacher herself.

On the way, 18-year-old Celine Watts has already encouraged other youngsters to take part in sport.

Celine has been nominated for the annual Mitsubishi Electric Young People of the Year awards (YOPEYs) – the Oscars for young people who ‘give to others’.

Celine, of Hyde Meadows, was nominated by Fiona Holmes, a teacher at John F. Kennedy RC School, for running lunchtime sport play sessions for infants, coaching and umpiring for netball clubs and raising more than £1,000 for charity through sport.

Celine broke the Hollybush Lane school’s record for sport volunteering, clocking up more than 300 hours.

Fiona said: “Her passion lies in sport and engaging young people in sporting activities. In her free periods at school, she organised fellow students to go with her to a local school, helping the teachers there to get children to try new sport and learn new skills.”

Celine has for two years organised JFK’s Netball and Football Match for Cancer Research, raising a total of £1,100, and has won the Maureen Ball Youth Award for contribution to netball from Netball England.

And even when her secondary school life had officially ended after her A-levels, she spent another month working three days a week as a PE teaching assistant.

Surprisingly, Celine said she wasn’t really interested in sport until she studied it for GCSE and then A-level.

She said: “My interest in it came from my PE teachers who were inspirational and I basically became a sports nut, though my main interest is netball.”

She moved from playing towards coaching and is a Level 1 and 2 qualified Sports Leader. That can mean setting up her own sports scheme for Years 1 and 2 at St Rose’s Catholic Infants School in Boxmoor and coaching ladies twice her age at the Back to Netball Club in Bovingdon.

Celine said: “PE is important and people learn a lot about the social side of it and the characteristics and qualities that can help you, like teamwork and leadership.

“My own confidence has increased because of sport.

“But not everyone can be good at sport and they should also have a place in PE lessons. Sometimes people aren’t confident at first and you have to help them. It is not that they cannot do it, they are choosing not to, and you have to develop the sport in them and make them want to do it.”

Celine will begin studying for a degree in PE at Newman University, Birmingham, in October, after which she hopes to return to work at JFK.

She said: “I take my inspiration from the PE teachers at JFK.

“ ff They are confident and all have a passion for sport and I hope I have helped a lot of the girls I have coached and encourage those who didn’t think they could do it.”

YOPEY started in north Herts in 2005 and expanded to the rest of the county 10 years ago. Its founder, former national newspaper journalist Tony Gearing, said: “There are many young people in Herts doing wonderful things for others. It’s just that they live in the shadow of a well-publicised anti-social minority.

“We need to give young people the respect they deserve and set up the best as positive role models for others to copy rather than focusing on the small number who appear in the press for negative reasons.”

“Sport really is important in many people’s lives for health and well-being.

“Celine understands that and has thrown herself into encouraging others to take it up. By becoming a PE teacher she will pass on the inspiration others have given her, and inspire many more.”

YOPEY is open to young people aged from 10 to 25 who live, work or study in Herts.

To nominate someone for a YOPEY, visit yopey.org or write, enclosing a stamped-addressed-envelope, to YOPEY, Woodfarm Cottage, Bury Road, Stradishall, Newmarket CB8 8YN for a paper entry form.

The closing date for entries is September 11.