Blog: “I want to give back through coaching”
Activity Alliance enables organisations to support disabled people to be active and stay active for life. This year we are sharing great stories from both sides – how organisations are working to make active lives possible, and the direct impact their work is having on individual disabled people. Today, we hear from Liam, British Gymnastics coach on why inclusive coaching means so much to him.
Hi I’m Liam, I’m 25 years old and I am a multi-sports coach at Stoke Mandeville. I would describe myself as a firm but fair coach. I believe myself to be a fun and enthusiastic and hope this reflects through to my coaching.
I coach gymnastics and football, and I have cerebral palsy. Getting into gymnastics came as a bit of a surprise to me. When I first started it seemed like fun thing to get involved in. It’s also something completely different to what I usually do. Now, I absolutely love being involved and glad I gave it a go – the gamble definitely paid off.
Football has always been a passion of mine. Not being able to play or officiate frustrated me, especially as football runs in the family. My great grandad was an assistant coach at Wycombe Wanderers in the 1940s. He became someone that I admired and hoped to be like. He’s one of the reasons I took up coaching.
Also, since a young age, I’ve been coming to the stadium to take part in sport. So, coaching seemed like a natural progression from being a participant. I found it difficult to relate to coaches when I was young. Now, I want to give back to those who are going through similar experiences in inclusive sport. I hope to become a role model in sport for disabled people.
The most rewarding part of being a coach is the enjoyment of being involved. It’s a fantastic feeling. It’s also rewarding to see the children you coach grow within their sport. Being a positive influence on them is great.
As a coach, having the confidence and skills to deliver opportunities for disabled people is really important. The benefits of sport is so much more than physical exercise. Disabled people still need this, perhaps even more so than non-disabled. But it makes sure people like me socialise and engage with society. As well as with others in the same situations. In that way, we can then support each other outside of sport.
My message to disabled people who want to get into coaching but not sure where to start is- start off by looking at what is available locally to you. We all start somewhere in coaching and there is plenty of opportunities. If you have friends and family involved in sport, see if they can help you out to get you going. But do not be afraid of asking for help from others, or even myself.
Want to hear more about the different way British Gymnastics is driving inclusion? Have a read of Kimberley’s blog, British Gymnastics Participation Inclusion Officer. Read Kimberley’s blog here.