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Blog: “My vision was to push disability sport in Birmingham”

Today, is International Volunteer Day and this year’s theme is #VolunteersActFirst. Established in 1985 by the United Nations, and celebrated on 5 December each year to recognise volunteer contributions around the globe. In support of the day, the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) will feature a series of blogs today. First, we catch up with Andy Craddock who volunteers as head coach for the City Of Birmingham Rockets Wheelchair Basketball club.

City of Birmingham Rockets Wheelchair Basketball team.

Approximately 15 years ago I was diagnosed with TNF Connective Tissue Disorder, which means my TNF DNA over produces and attacks my healthy cells and organs, and as a result they deteriorate.

When I became medically retired I found myself with nowhere to go and didn’t know what to do. I spent most my days looking at four walls and I became very depressed and isolated. However, through the support of my family and friends I began to feel inspired again. I decided to embark on a new adventure which lead me to volunteer as head coach for the City of Birmingham Rockets Wheelchair Basketball club.  

I started the club in November 2016, with the aim of bringing both disabled and non-disabled people together to embrace sport and engage with each other. My vision was to push disability sport in Birmingham more and break down barriers that regardless of having a disability or not, you can be actively involved in sport. Also, having a hidden disability myself, I wanted to help people going through the same mental struggles as I did.

The club is just over a year old now and we have over 50 people coming in to just play or become members. It’s great to see people enjoying themselves and being a part of something - that’s why I enjoy doing it. I also get to have fun and be a part of it all.

Volunteering has really given me the satisfaction that I am doing something with my life. To any disabled person wanting to go out and volunteer in sport, I would say just go for it. It’s something you will enjoy doing and it will help change your mind set. Regardless of having a disability you can still go out and do things, make friends and get a career out of it.  

I believe volunteering in sport is really important. It makes people more aware of disability and helps them understand that everyone can be an asset to the community.

Andy Craddock with Basketball in hand.