CI Sports Awards: Valued recognition for Jersey's martial arts community

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JIU-JITSU coach Vladimiro ‘Miro’ Afonso says his nomination for coach of the year at the Channel Islands Sports Awards is ‘huge for all Jersey-based martial arts’.

Afonso’s inclusion on the coaching shortlist for 2021 will give martial arts a level of publicity rarely offered at the prestigious awards; a feat which the Portuguese black belt called ‘completely unexpected’.

An accomplished fighter himself, Afonso – head coach at Brazilian Power Team Jersey – claimed silver in the World Pro Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Abu Dhabi last November.

While he was competing in the Middle East, a team of his students were taking London by storm at the BJJ All-stars event.

Preparations for the event were hampered by the pandemic, which caused the BPT gym to close down for some of the build-up. Coach Afonso, however, was keen to keep his team training and delivered several mats from the gym to the homes of his fighters.

‘We were in regular contact with the team,’ he said. ‘I felt it was key to maintain that human interaction from a mental health standpoint.’

Afonso said: ‘Expectations [for the All-stars event] were low. The team were just happy to be able to travel and compete under the circumstances. Perhaps it was a lack of focus placed on the results that freed up the competitors to perform at such a high level.’

Discussing his coaching techniques, Afonso added: ‘Leading by example is so important. We all go through the same challenges in preparation together, so the team have a tendency to listen to me more as a coach who is an active fighter. It is hard to ask your students to try a ridiculous move, when you are not right there with them on the mat giving it a go.’

Afonso added that the nomination is for all of Jersey’s martial arts community.

‘It’s not just me, it’s everyone behind me,’ he said. ‘This is not a one-man show.’

Guernsey Athletics coach Tom Druce, Jersey Bulls manager Gary Freeman and Jersey’s men’s cricket head coach Neil MacRae complete a competitive shortlist for the 2021 Coach of the Year Award.

More in Friday’s JEP.

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