“Hi my name is john and I am a volunteer coach with Scottish curling. I have been a qualified coach for just over a year now and have been busy putting everything that I have learned into practice. I had been a wheelchair curler for 5 years and have benefited from the coaching that I have received in this time. I was interested in becoming a qualified curling coach and contacted the disability officer for Scottish curling, Helen Kallow, to see if this would be possible.”
‘The response was very encouraging, and I decided to go for it.When working out what courses I needed to do I realised that this was going to be costly but still wanted to do it as I wanted to try and help other disabled curlers to get the best out of their play. I contacted Helen again and explained what I would like to do but the cost of travel was an issue for me.’
Many curling rinks are in rural locations and provide a valuable social hub for the communities there. Due to there being more curlers in the central belt region, courses are often held there. An effort is made to hold courses in other areas, even when this may be at a loss to enable more people to take part. This would benefit everyone who lives in rural areas, not just disabled people. Funding will be allocated to this next year as it is more efficient to take training to people where they are.
‘Helen explained that there was some funding that I might be able to get to help with travel and course fees, which was great to know. I received some funding for travel which was great as I live in a village called Creetown in south west Scotland and most of the courses were in the central belt. Being a coach with Scottish curling has been a good experience for me and has shown me that being in a wheelchair isn’t an obstacle to coach any curling. I haven’t found many issues while I have been out and about in different places.The only issue is accessibility in some places but there is always a solution.I have been invited to be part of different coaching teams throughout Scotland and have taught curlers of all abilities and disabilities.’
‘The funding support I received has let me travel to these places and has made a huge difference to me. I have been coaching on a weekly basis at my club which is Lockerbie wheelchair curling club and also in Dumfries. The experience I have gained over the last year has really helped me and building my confidence. I have been lucky to be part of coaching teams in the National Curling Academy on several occasions working with all abilities of curlers.I have also been lucky to work alongside some great coaches which has been great to get some advice and encouragement to help me on my coaching journey. Some of my best moments have been working with visually impaired curlers and with children with learning difficulties. It never ceases to amaze me how different people can overcome their disability and turn it around to ability and progress.In my experience so far I haven’t found anything I haven’t enjoyed and find this really rewarding.
I have learned to sit back and look at situations and work with my pupils to find a solution to help them move forward and get the results they are working for. I have learned never to pre assume what people can do and always go to each session with an open mind.Going forward in my coaching journey I would like to try and help as many people as I possibly can so everyone can enjoy their sport to the best of their abilities.I want to be part of the sport both as a coach and a player and hopefully try and help, progress and promote players and the sport of curling.’
This shows that John has benefitted hugely from the funding as it has enabled him to access training and volunteering opportunities which otherwise would have been outwith his reach with a low income. By taking up opportunities at a national level and coaching alongside more experienced coaches, including the Paralympic coach, John has improved his coaching skills and confidence. He then carries this back to his local clubs, where other wheelchair curlers are able to benefit from his experience.
John has now been elected as Chair of the Scottish Wheelchair Curling association, where he will continue to be supported with courses on chairing a meeting and running a committee when these are able to run again. John has asked for help when he needed it and thankfully, there was help available, both in financial terms as well as access to training and national level volunteering opportunities. He will continue to be a valued volunteer for the organisation and I hope he will inspire others to keep going on their volunteer journey at whatever level they want to.