Disability coaching scheme is hailed a success

TO mark ‘2012 Day’ on Monday, December 20, Suffolk celebrated the success of a project to help get more people in the county to qualify as disability sport coaches in the run-up to the 2012 Paralympic Games.

The Disability Sport Coaching Bursary Scheme was set up in 2008 by disability charity Optua in partnership with Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Sport.

The aim was to produce 50 new or better-qualified disability sport coaches by 2012.

Two years later and 30 people have made the most of the scheme, gaining qualifications in coaching a range of disability sports including football, sailing, swimming, powerlifting, wheelchair basketball and rugby.

Those people who have gained qualifications through the bursary scheme coach a total of around 500 disabled people every month so the scheme has had a huge impact over the past two years.

The bursary scheme can provide funding for courses to help people become qualified as coaches or to improve qualifications they already have. The aim is to create better opportunities for disabled people in Suffolk to take part in sport.

David Finn, Manager of Optua’s Leisure Service, said: “Helping more people to get a qualification ultimately provides more opportunities for disabled to get involved in sport in Suffolk or achieve more in their chosen sport.

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“Many potential disability sport coaches are keen to get a qualification but the cost might be putting them off. That’s where the bursary scheme comes in as we can cover most of the cost of getting a qualification as long as disabled people will benefit from it.”

Cllr Rosemary Clarke, Suffolk County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Sport, Culture, Diversity, Health and Wellbeing, said: “The bursary scheme is important because it’s using the inspiration of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to leave a sporting legacy for Suffolk that will benefit the county long after the Games have been and gone.

“It’s pleasing to see the scheme is having such a positive impact.”

Terry McEntee, Operations Manager at Suffolk Sport, added: “The bursary helps coaches gain expertise and confidence to enable more disabled people to take part and excel in sport.”

There have been many positive comments from those who have benefited from the scheme:

One said: “I have enjoyed myself more because I can now show and explain what to do to more people. It has given me confidence to be more involved in what we offer to people who come sailing with us.”

n For more information about the Bursary Scheme go to www.beyourbest.org.uk or telephone Optua on 01473 836770.