Disability Sports Coach helps to find new generation of Paralympians
9 December 2011
As a ParalympicsGB throws coach, I work at grassroots level for both Portsmouth City Council and England Athletics. I coach pupils with a disability in mainstream and special schools, helping them to take part in sport and enter competitions.
At the moment I am helping to put London 2012 legacies in place around Portsmouth. For England Athletics, I take introduction days for future Paralympians, including taking some of the throws sessions. It is a great way to discover talent and hopefully we will continue to find would-be Paralympians from these kinds of programmes. This is an ongoing initiative and I will continue to help out Paralympic throwers a lot next year as well. There is more opportunity now then there has ever been before.
Ahead of the London 2012 games, I think it is very important to try and put this legacy in place early, because there is great talent out there that just needs to be discovered. Until you start to drive these initiatives, schemes and projects, it is difficult to know whether they are working. Talent Identification in Paralympic sports is not as established as it is for Olympic athletes, however it is equally important. We need people turning up to sessions and finding out that they have got the skills to compete in a range of sports, even if they have not competed before.
We are looking for people who will go the whole hog and really go for it. We need to catch potential Paralympians now as the Games is getting closer and you do not know what talent could be out there. I spotted and recommended many talented Paralympians last year and they have gone through the ranks quickly, while others are still working hard to progress. To have the opportunity to represent your country is a great goal to strive for.
We have a lot of young Paralympians coming through and we have got a throwers squad in Portsmouth who could do very well. We are mixing up sessions so everyone has the opportunity to train in professional group environments, with different coaches and players.
The Games are not too far away now and young people are very enthusiastic about the prospect of this once in a lifetime event coming to London. In addition, teachers in education are also doing their bit and they want to help out wherever they can.
It is crucial that training sessions and opportunities to get involved are very inclusive, as the key thing is to sustain a legacy for future Games. You have to have a lot of commitment as a coach, you have to be passionate about the sport you are working within and you have to enjoy it. Hopefully we can continue to start Paralympians off locally and then help them to join mainstream clubs, who are affiliated with a National Governing Body (NGB) like England Athletics. From there they start to realise what they want to do.
It is a pathway which starts in schools and colleges and then competition managers put people into competitions. My job is the easy job, I have to select the best talent and then help them to join a club of some sort. I get more of a kick out of helping others than I did when I was competing myself because you get to see someone progress. We guide them to where they want to be and help them be the best that they can be.
Bronwin Carter is a ParalympicsGB throws coach and she works at grassroots level for Portsmouth City Council and England Athletics. Bronwin is a former world weightlifting champion and 10-time European champion. She was talking to Podium's Stuart Appleby.
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