On Monday 30 September, PwC Russia, a SportAccord Convention Gold Partner, hosted the official awards ceremony for its My First Coach programme in its 10th floor PwC Club facility at Moscow's White Square Business Centre. The award winners were Vasily Sergienko of Dzerzhinsk, Nizhny Novgorod Region, in the Coach of Disabled Athletes nomination category, and Evgeny Merkushev of Krasnoyarsk in the Coach of Young Athletes nomination category.

The two winning coaches received cash prizes as well as a trip to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. The two contest participants who nominated the winning coaches were each awarded a Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Vasily Sergienko holds the first senior category in football and is a premier class coach, specialising in training young adults. Over his 26-year career, he has coached over 1,000 children; he has been awarded a Certificate of Honour by the Russian Federation Ministry of Sports. Evgeny Merkushev coaches children's basketball; he is a premier class coach with 37 years' experience coaching young people. Throughout his professional career, he has worked with approximately 500 young basketball players, having trained over 30 masters of sport. He holds several certificates of honour, including from the Russian Federation Ministry of Sports.

Overall, more than 350 applications to take part in the contest were submitted from over 110 cities, towns and villages across Russia. Under the programme rules, anyone could nominate their own athletic coach to take part in the contest, simply by filing in an application. Each application was carefully reviewed by the programme's executive committee, which then chose those coaches to be registered for the contest from among all nominees. PwC Russia received more than 200 sincere, from-the-heart testimonials on the unique personal and professional qualities of nominated coaches, and the critical role that they have played in the lives of the young athletes under their care. Coaches from over 60 different sports were represented in the contest.

The My First Coach award is intended for those coaches who have helped young athletes and athletes with disabilities to achieve their personal best, both on the playing field and in life. Contest participants include coaches from regional and urban sports centres, sections and teams, who have devoted their lives to seeking out and training young athletic talent. This award is a sign of acknowledgement and gratitude for their hard work, which sometimes goes unrecognised.

Also participating in the event were members of the contest jury, including Vladislav Tretiak, president of the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia and My First Coach programme ambassador; Olesya Vladykina, two-time Paralympic champion and Sochi 2014 ambassador; Dmitry Guberniev, VGTRK TV sports commentator; Vasily Konov, editor-in-chief of the R-Sport news agency; and Yuri Ovchinnikov, president of the Professional Coach Association of Russia.

Robert Gruman, Leader of PwC's Global Sports Mega-Events Centre of Excellence, said: "As both a 'coach' and consultant to many businesses, PwC has a unique understanding of the role that coaches play for athletes, and that's why we have decided to actively support the institution of coaching in Russia. The My First Coach award programme has given us the honour of getting to know more about these people whose contribution to moulding the next generation of young athletes is difficult to overestimate, whose work not only helps to promote sports, but also to make life better for many people."

Vladislav Tretiak, President of the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia, three-time Olympic champion, ten-time World champion, and nine-time European champion, noted: "It's really a great honour for me to serve as an ambassador for the My First Coach programme. It's a topic that's very close to my heart because I also had a first coach to whom I am extremely grateful. Unfortunately, we often don't give first-level coaches the attention they deserve, even though these are the people who really do the most to discover young talent and do all the hard, 'dirty' work of setting young athletes on the path to success. I am very grateful to PwC for establishing this award programme, as it allows any athlete to give proper respect and recognition to his or her first coach."