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Breaking new ground

Posted in Disability Cricket

After completing the ECB Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Cricket in Llandrindod Wells, Mid Wales, I was informed by one of the tutors that I was the first wheelchair user that they had delivered the course to and was asked to write about my experiences of participating on the course.

To provide some background information, as a youngster I played a lot of sport, particularly football, rugby, cricket and anything else that got me out of the house and schoolwork.

At the age of 23 I had an accident playing rugby, breaking my neck and damaging my spinal cord, leading to permanent paralysis from the chest down. I now use a wheelchair and still enjoy watching all sport.

Andy Lewis

Andy Lewis poses with the other coaches who completed their Level 1 course in Llandrindod Wells

Whilst taking my nephew to his first under-nine cricket practice last year I met up with a friend from school who was coaching at my old cricket club and I got involved from there.

Before going on the course I had the usual worries about whether or not the venue would be accessible. The course was advertised in our local newspaper well in advance and I was able to make contact with Peter Brett, the course organiser, to discuss my access requirements.

Peter was then able to check everything out at the venue beforehand. I also contacted the venue directly and they were able to reassure me that the facilities were all suitable.

The course consisted of two days over one weekend and focussed on how to deliver coaching as well as first aid and safeguarding and protecting children, followed by an assessment session the following Saturday between.

The days were long and tiring but still extremely worthwhile and enjoyable. If anyone else is considering undertaking the course then I would advise not planning to do too much else during the course.

There was only a small amount of preparation and planning needed at home during the first weekend. The session to be delivered for the final assessment was allocated before leaving at the end of the first weekend thus allowing a week to think, practice and prepare.

Prior to going on the course my main concern related to how I was going to be able to be involved in the more practical demonstrations and activities and whether this would have a bearing on me actually being able to pass the assessment stage.

On the first morning when we all got together we had an introductory session where we were all able to discuss any concerns we had. Any doubts I had were dismissed and the tutors assured me that not being able to physically deliver the demonstrations would not be a problem and alternative arrangements would be introduced.

The course involved some minimal time in a classroom setting which provided an introduction to coaching and how to coach skills. The majority of the time was spent in the sports centre delivering practical sessions involving fellow coaches on the course.

The course was extremely interesting, challenging, well run and whilst introducing a lot of new information it was done at a pace that was easy to follow.

Andy Lewis

Andy gets involved during one of the demonstrations in the sports hall. Next stop - the Level 2 coaching course

We were given ample opportunity to practice and develop the 'how to coach' skills during the course and the tutors were always on hand to provide support and encouragement.

The tutors on the course - Mark, Keith and Glyn - were fantastic and took time to speak to me and find out what I was able to do and comfortable to participate in and then just got on with things. They were approachable and were always willing to assist if asked.

For the aspects of the course that I was physically unable to do, like the demonstrations, I was set other tasks which included observing fellow coaches undertaking a demonstration and then picking out which coach was delivering the best demonstration.

I had ample opportunity to deliver various practical sessions over the weekend with my fellow coaches. During times when fellow coaches were undertaking practical sessions and running the small group games which I was not participating in I was asked to observe and review how they were running the session from a coaching point of view. This meant that despite not being able to participate in the activity I always had something relevant to do.

During the course we were introduced to the ECB Coaches Code of Conduct which actively promotes the rights of every individual to participate in the game. I am pleased to say that those principles were upheld throughout and that everyone involved with the organisation and delivery of the course contributed in a positive way to making it an extremely enjoyable and inclusive experience for me.

I thoroughly enjoyed the course and it has provided me with some new skills and the self-confidence in my ability to assist in providing a safe and enjoyable introduction to the game of cricket for young people.

Here’s looking forward to Level 2 next year.