Aspley Little Athletics Club Captain Sophie Porter Named Athlete of the Year

Aspley Little Athletics club captain Sophie Porter, a Year 12 student from All Hallows’ School, has been named as one of 13 national Coles Little Athletes of the Year for season 2021/22.

The 17-year-old was one of 110 nominees across Australia to be recognised for their sportsmanship, leadership, teamwork, and health. She has been with Aspley Little Athletics since she was barely 6 years old.

“It was a complete surprise to hear I won because I didn’t even know my club had nominated me. I felt very excited and am honoured to be chosen as one of the national winners,” Sophie, who recently completed her 12th and final season, said.

“It was pleasing to be recognised for my contributions towards setting up and packing up the equipment on competition days and encouraging and mentoring our younger members in enjoying their time at the club regardless of results.”

As a Little Athlete of the Year, Sophie will receive a $500 Coles gift card and will undergo a virtual mentoring session with Olympian and Australian pole vault record-holder Nina Kennedy and dual Paralympian and triple medallist at Tokyo 2020 Jaryd Clifford.

Aspley Little Athletics centre manager David Heidrich said that the community is very proud of Sophie, who is a great role model for the rest of their athletes. 

“She consistently helps with the younger age groups as well as helping to set up and pack down at weekly competitions and regional championships. Unfortunately, this is her last year in Little Athletics and will be greatly missed,” Mr Heidrich said. 

Sophie acknowledged Mr Heidrich as well as race walking coach Shane Pearson for shaping and training her athletic abilities. 

“David steered me towards helping coach the younger generation of Aspley walkers, something I would like to continue doing next season now that my time as a Little Athlete has come to an end.”

Coles Little Athletics Australia President Sherrie Boulter said that the annual Coles Little Athlete of the Year awards are not just about recognising talents but also motivating the kids to be their best on and off the track. 

“That’s why our motto is “be your best” and it’s great to have an award that recognises sportsmanship, leadership, health and teamwork like the Coles Little Athlete of the Year,” she said.

In addition to supporting the Coles Little Athlete of the Year award, Coles has donated more than 3.7 million bananas and distributed over $2 million in sports equipment grants to Little Athletics centres across Australia since 2017.

Coles Provides Sports Equipment Grant to Bracken Ridge Little Athletics, Other Community Sports Clubs

Coles has been giving out sports equipment grants to various community sports clubs such as Bracken Ridge Little Athletics, to help purchase new equipment for practice and training.

Bracken Ridge Little Athletics was given the grant in 2021, in the third round out of six rounds for the year. They used the money to buy a high jump mat cover and stands and defibrillator. 

Funds for the grants have been raised from specially marked reusable bags designed by Aussie kids, as well as the sale of bananas sold at Coles’ supermarkets on National Banana Day in May, with 10 cents from every 1 kg sold going to the Little Athletics Community Fund.

Photo Credit: Bracken Ridge Little Athletics/Facebook

The funding brings Coles’ allocation of sports equipment grants to over $2 million in three years and comes at a time when community sports clubs continue to feel the effects of COVID-19. 

Coles CEO Steven Cain said the Coles Little Athletics Community Fund is just one way Coles is supporting local communities and helping young Australians to live healthier, happier lives.

“We know it’s been a very challenging 18 months for communities across Australia who thrive on grassroots sport,” he said.

“Little Athletics plays a vital role in not just producing elite athletes like our Coles ambassadors Sally Pearson and Brandon Starc, but also by encouraging kids to be active and healthy.”

In addition to providing more than $2 million in equipment grants, Coles has donated more than 3.6 million bananas to Little Athletics centres since 2017.

Coles will be rolling out more funding for Little Athletics in 2022. To learn more about the successful recipients, check out Little Athletics Fund.