Craig Monaghan reflected on an overwhelming day as he was named Community Coach of the Year at the 2019 Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Community Awards.
Craig pipped Harlequins’ James Collins Clark and Anthony O’Reilly of Wasps to the crown thanks to his efforts with the Sale Sharks Community Trust.
After being wounded in Afghanistan in 2009 and medically discharged from the army, Craig has found a new lease of life in the rugby world with his work with programmes Sharks Forces and Balls To That reaching record levels of engagement and helping more people than ever before.
He said: “It was really good to win the award, it’s something to be proud of and to help build awareness of the work we’re doing in the north west. This work in changing lives is hugely important so to see it pay off in this way is pretty impressive.
“You feel quite wowed by everything here. “I’m proud of it, Sale Sharks Trust is and everyone at the club is. To walk up on stage is what it’s about. You want to make the biggest impact and that’s what I believe Sale and Sale Sharks Trust have done.”
Craig perforated both his eardrums while serving in Afghanistan leaving him with only 26% of his hearing left while he was also diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
This left him in an especially dark place but Craig recovered through his love of rugby, first playing for his local side Bowden RUFC before reaching elite level for the England Deaf side.
From there a chance meeting saw Craig become involved with the Sale Sharks Community Trust, a partnership that would help the programmes blossom into what they are now with more than 200 ex-forces personnel and 600 people engaged in the two.
In truly inspiring fashion he has used his own mental health story to encourage others to seek help while also supporting other ex-forces personnel with life after the military and this all stems from thoughts he had at his lowest point.
Craig added: “I made an agreement with myself when I was in quite a dark place that if I overcame that and could made good out of a bad situation then I’d try and move that blueprint across and help others.
“Originally it was about getting people back into sport but it’s gotten a lot bigger and a lot better than that. It’s become bigger than I ever even though it could be.
“To have the impact and achievement it has had has been massive and I’m very proud.”