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Muaythai Fighter Joshua McCulloch takes out Top Honour at Sports Awards



The Tamworth Sporting community came together last night for the annual regional sporting awards.

Muaythai fighter Joshua McCulloch was named senior sports star of the year and sports person of the year.

Josh says it’s an honour to be named the Sports Person of the year in a region he proudly represents.

“Very honored, to win two big awards in the Tamworth community,” Josh said.

“I always let them know where I’m from, I come out to the boys from the bush (song) sometimes so everyone knows where I’m born and breed.”

It was a good night for the Tamworth Thunderbolt’s Men’s team who took out senior sporting team of the year and coach John Island was named Coach of the year.

John says it’s a well-deserved award for his team, which had a great season.

“The team award is the more important one for us,” the proud coach said.

“The guys getting the acknowledgement for what they’ve achieved throughout the years is extremely positive and it’s a nice bit of icing on the cake for the great positive season we had as a group.”

All of the Award Winners:


Sport Development Award


Winner: Tamworth Swans Australian Football Club

The Tamworth Swans have achieved across the board in 2019, with a strong focus on skill development and building a culture around the enjoyment of the game. Their women’s team debuted this season, reaching the preliminary finals after a fantastic season and their senior men’s team qualified for the finals for the first time since 2010. Their extension into two additional competitions (women’s and under 14s) has also promoted the game to a new audience, engaging new players and promoting female participation in the sport.

Ken McKenzie Award for Services to Sport


Winner: Jeff Benson, Tamworth Mountain Bikers

Jeff has been an active member on the Tamworth Mountain Bikers executives committee since 2014 when the Mountain Bike Park opened. Since then, he has been a key contributor to successful grant applications and has volunteered regular and significant time to help maintain the park and at regional and interstate mountain bike races hosted in the Tamworth region. Jeff is also passionate about the cultural significance of the Tamworth Mountain Bike Park, and has worked with traditional owners to ensure respect and recognition throughout the Park’s development.

Cara Hickson Award


Winner: Abbie Peet, Multiclass Para-athlete

In 2019, Abbie has competed in both cross country and athletics events, attending a total of 11 carnivals. She has a number of incredible achievements under her belt including; representing NSW at Schools Sports Australia (SSA) National Cross Country; competing at the SSA National Athletics ; being awarded the Para Age Champion at the Christian School Sports Association Primary State Athletics where she broke three records for 800m Para Athlete, Long Jump Para Athlete and 200m Para Athlete. Abbie has cerebral palsy and is a great advocate for kids with special needs and their inclusion in sport. Abbie won the Local Achiever Award at the 2018 Tamworth Regional Council Sports Awards.

Local Achiever Award


Winner: Mitch Doring, Rugby League

Mitchell was the Captain Coach of the Manilla Tigers, who won the Group 4 reserve grade Rugby League Grand Final in 2019 after not being able to field a side in the competition in 2018. Mitchell was a key part of the club building a team from the ground up, recruiting players from Manilla and surrounds, building local support for the club and encouraging spectators. He is also an accomplished player for the side, making a positive contribution to the Manilla Tigers’ game in 2019.

Coach of the Year


Winner: John Ireland, Coach of Tamworth Thunderbolts Basketball Men

John has been committed to coaching within the Tamworth Basketball Senior program for over 12 years. In 2019, John managed a predominantly young squad, walking away from the Thunderbolts Men’s season with wins for 18 of their 20 games. John’s passion and commitment to the sport includes his work on the local Men’s A Grade competition and his Chairing the Draft Committee. John was also named Coach of the Year by the NSW Waratah Basketball League.

Highly Commended: Jarrod Campbell, Northwest Tennis Academy

Junior Sports Team of the Year


Winner: McCarthy Junior Girls Hockey Team

This team consisted of female hockey players in years 7 to 9 at McCarthy Catholic College, Tamworth. In August, the team were the Junior Girl Champions at the 2019 Combined Catholic Colleges (CCC) State Carnival in Newcastle (this is the second consecutive year the team has won this championship with many players part of both wins). The team has also contributed to the sport off the field, volunteering to coach and umpire. It is coached by Mr Geoffrey Denton.

Senior Sports Team of the Year


Winner: Tamworth Thunderbolts Basketball Men

2019 has been one of the men’s team’s most successful, with wins for 18 of their 20 games played and drawing large crowds to home games. Individuals were also recognised by the NSW Waratah Basketball League with Quayshun Hawkins named Most Valuable Player, Rhys Chillingworth and Quayshun Hawkins names in the Allstar 5 and Coach John Ireland named Coach of the Year. The team provides a pathway for young players from the Junior Representative Program.

Highly Commended: North Tamworth Bears, First Grade Team

Junior Sports Star of the Year


Winner: Kaecia Beattie, Tennis

In 2019, Kaecia competed in both national and international competitions in tennis including the Fiji Open as a member of the Evonne Gooloogong Foundation (where she reached the semi-finals for her age group from an unseeded position), the Rod Laver Asian/Oceanian IC Junior Challenge in Hong Kong and the National Indigenous Tennis Carnival in Darwin (where she was runner-up). Kaecia has made an outstanding contribution to her sport through her participation and proud pursuit of tennis through Indigenous channels and is a role model for her peers, helping to raise awareness of the sport both competitively and socially amongst young Indigenous people.

Highly Commended: Mikayla Gross, Basketball, Abbie Peet, Multiclass Para-athlete

Senior Sports Star of the Year and TRC Sports Person of the Year


Joshua McCulloch, Muaythai

Josh is an Amateur Muaythai fighter at Chaffey’s BlackBelt Academy, training eight times a week. Josh has fought against competitors from all over the world and in August this year, successfully defended his 60kg East Coast Australian title. He aspires to be a World Champion and is an inspiration to other Muaythai athletes in the Tamworth region, having not lost a fight in over two years.

Highly Commended: Brody Blackett-Gregg, Netball




LOCAL News

with Annie Lewis