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.
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.