Nichols Honoured for Dedication to Sports

Hockey stalwart Andrea Nichols is the recipient of the 2024 Esther Maynard Icon Award from the Barbados Olympic Association Inc. (BOA), becoming the fifth person to be honoured.

Nichols received the prestigious award, which recognises excellence and the outstanding contributions of women who have blazed and continue to blaze a trail in sport, during a ceremony on Saturday, March 23, at the BOA Olympic Centre, Wildey, St. Michael. She was one of three nominees chosen following a process which involved nominations from the National Federations.  The other nominees were Penny McIntyre of the Barbados Sailing Association and Diana Clarke of the Barbados Equestrian Association. 

Nichols is a former national hockey player, international hockey umpire, hockey technical official, national hockey coach, educator, and sports administrator. Her journey in hockey spans nearly five decades, and she has been recognized for her stewardship, being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017.

Throughout the years, she has displayed an unwavering dedication to promoting equity and development for women and girls in sports. In 2018, she organized the “Play Like a Girl” Hockey Day initiative, which involved over 40 girls between the ages of 11 and 15 from various secondary schools. They learnt how hockey and sport, in general, can be tools for social, professional, and personal development. 

Though slowed by recent health challenges, Nichols, who served as an education officer with the Ministry of Education responsible for physical education, continues to support the development and growth of women and girls and the sport of hockey.  

Addressing the ceremony, President of the BOA Sandra Osborne, said that it was not surprising that all the nominees exemplify qualities similar to those of the person in whose honour the award was created.  

“When one reads their resumés, there is no doubt that sport is in good hands, and the next generation of leaders would be well advised to emulate these remarkable role models, who have, in multiple ways, uplifted so many young boys and girls by offering them the opportunity to compete and excel. Their example shows the power of sport”. 

Marsha Boyce, chair of the BOA’s Gender Equality Commission, remarked that the three nominees are beacons on the pathways to gender equality. She highlighted that while there may be biological differences, in sports, women can all be equally invested, committed, and rewarded. 

Moreover, Boyce revealed that as of February this year, the BOA’s Women in Sport Commission evolved into the Gender Equality Commission, with the continued mandate of supporting and empowering women and girls while also advocating for gender equity in all aspects of sports and striving for gender balance in what they do. 

“The evolution of the Gender Equality Commission and the general ethos behind it is not just a reflection of changes in the international landscape, but it can also be seen in the work tonight’s awardees have committed to, ensuring no one was left behind,” she added. 

In accepting the award from Esther Maynard, the icon in whose honour the award is named, Nichols said that she was “very happy” to receive the recognition and described Maynard as “one of her heroes”. 

The awardee said her career has been fulfilling, thanking her colleagues who worked together to pull off numerous victories in the sport. She also expressed that while sportswomen were looked on in younger days as being tomboys, today, women in sports are growing in popularity and acceptance.