AN IRVINE pair have been honoured for helping young people change their lives through sport.

Zac O'Neil and Jake Larcombe both won top prizes at the Scottish Sports Futures sportscotland Awards 2023 held at the Radisson Blu hotel in Glasgow on Friday, February 24, night.

They were two of only eight award winners throughout the evening, and were selected from almost 60 nominees across all categories.

The awards seeked to recognise the two youngster's work in Scottish Sports Futures (SSF) programmes and projects.

Zac won the Shell sponsored Positive Destination Award - which recognised his amazing journey over his time at SSF.

He has recently gone through the young leaders programme and other training courses to improve himself, works tirelessly to improve and has never failed to take on every opportunity granted to him.

Though there was a time when he was not certain whether SSF was for him.

Zac explained: “At first I wasn’t too sure if I should go (to SSF) or not, but then when I found out it was basketball related and something I was going to enjoy, I got the courage to go and have fun.

“I love just being in there in the moment just playing and having my own part and it just gets me away from all the other stuff that I’m worried about.”

Fellow Irvine youngster Jake’s journey has inspired other young people to overcome adversity and never fear a challenge.

He won the Inspiring Journey Award (sponsored by Scottish Club Sport) which is credit to his ability to motivate and inspire all those around him.

In light of his award win, Jake has hailed the SSF programme for how it has helped him on his journey.

He commented: “I’ve been at SSF for about a year and was first encouraged to come along from one of my teachers and have enjoyed it since and just kept coming back and back.

“I’d say to any other young people looking to come along to an SSF programme to definitely get involved because it’s changed my life and hopefully it can change others.”

And while both boys credited SSF for helping them on their journey, the organisation's chief executive, Kirsty McNabb, said it was a privillege to work alongside people like Zac and Jake.

She said: “I am so proud of each young person we are privileged to work alongside at Scottish Sports Futures.

"Our annual awards allow for much deserved recognition of the incredible journeys they have been on, and how, through the power of sport and positive relationships, they are flourishing.

“A massive well done to every nominee, finalist, and winner. You are role models to every young person and together we will support all young people to achieve their potential.”