Fun-din

Some of you may know that I am part of the Scottish Disability Sport Young Persons Sport Panel who recently linked up with the Young Start Mentoring Programme.

On Monday 12 March Colette Martin, fellow Young Persons Sport Panel member, and I went to the BBC studios in Glasgow with Heather Lowden (Coaching and Education Manager for SDS) and Kirsty Byrne (Edinburgh University Student) to take part in the Children In Need\Big Lottery consultation on reviewing funding opportunities.

There were 8 projects including SDS and each project had to explain their roles and responsibilities and the purpose of their project. Colette and I spoke about the Young Persons Sport Panel and the Young Start Mentoring Programme which seemed to go down really well.

Each Project then had to come up with ideas on how they would give funding to projects, to provide ideas for the future.

We enjoyed the consultation and hope our ideas were useful.

If you would more information on anything in this blog please email Lewis.McConnell@scottishdisabilitysport.com

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It’s Not All About Boccia

Scottish Disability Sport have Parasport Days all over Scotland to try and encourage school children with a physical and sensory disability to participate in new sports. The children are spit into groups according to their disabilities and they go round different sports which are suitable for them.

Group photo at West Parasport Festival

On Friday 9 March it was the West of Scotland Parasport Day at Ravenscraig Sports Centre. My role, alongside fellow coaches Peter McGuire and Jenny Nethery, was to coach boccia sessions to some of the groups. We had three different groups for the boccia – power wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs and ambulant.

The sessions started with some fun games like trying to get the balls into hoops and trying to hit cones then ended with some match play. We had a special guest coach for one of sessions, with Claire Morrison, Performance Coach for Boccia UK, taking an extra session with the power wheelchairs group.

It was great to see the children really enjoying the sessions and showcasing their skills and I think we might have some superstars for the future. Thanks to the West Regional team of Lori Ure and Lynn Allison for organising a great event with a wide variety of sports, and also thanks to the Celtic FC Foundation for sponsoring the day.Group photo at Tayside Parasport Festival

The Tayside Parasport Day was held on Wednesday 14 March at Dundee and Angus College which was organised perfectly by Jennifer Scally, Tayside Regional Manager. I had several roles on the day which were boccia coaching, powerchair football coaching, athlete mentoring and talent ID.

Boccia Coaching

The boccia session was similar to the one at the West Parasport Day. The session went really well and three players were signed for a boccia club.

Powerchair Football Coaching

This was my first ever powerchair football coaching session but I definitely think it was a success. Even though we didn’t have all the ideal equipment everyone really enjoyed the session, especially the college students who were on hand to help with the day – some of them even managed to grab a wheelchair and join in with the session.

Athlete Mentoring

I was an athlete mentor for one of the groups which meant telling the group about my sporting story and hopefully inspiring them to start their own sporting journey. I also went round all the sports with the group to help keep them motivated and assist with adaptions needed to participate in the sport.

Talent ID

I tried to identify anyone who might be interested or have the potential to do well in any of the sports.

The East of Scotland Parasport Day is on Friday 23 March at Forrester/St Augustine’s High School and the Central Parasport Day will take place in October.

If you would like more information about the Parasport Days please email me:
Lewis.McConnell@scottishdisabilitysport.com

“Friendly” Competition

In Scotland you may know that we like a bit of friendly rivalry and banter, especially when it comes to the West of Scotland and the East of Scotland.

Scottish Disability Sport has Regional Boccia Squads throughout Scotland and two of them are coming together for a friendly competition in preparation for the Scottish Disability Sport BISFed Boccia Championships. You’ll be mistaken if you think this will be a nice friendly competition, trust me there’ll be a lot of blood sweat and tears… and that’ll just be from the SDS West and East Regional Managers!

On Tuesday 17 April the East of Scotland Boccia Squad will host the West of Scotland Boccia Squad for the first match of the competition. The East players will be hoping to take full advantage of their home court with the West players trying to make their trip through a successful one.

The week after, on Wednesday 25 April, it’ll be the West of Scotland Boccia Squad’s turn to host the East of Scotland Boccia Squad for the second leg of the competition. Will it be a home win for the West Squad or will the East Squad crash the party with a victory?! It has been said that “West is best”; I for one can’t confirm or deny that, all I can say with both Squads having players in the National Squad and players who have been selected for the CPIRSA World Games it’s set to be a great competition and one I’m looking forward to. There will some serious talent on show across a range of ages from both the East and the West, so look out for the results to follow!

In all seriousness the friendly games will be great for players in both squads in the build up to the Scottish Championships which will take place on Saturday 5 May.

If you would like more information about the Squads or the competitions please email me:
Lewis.McConnell@scottishdisabilitysport.com

Are You Ready For….. 2018?!

We have entered 2018 and looks like it will be a busy year for Scottish Boccia!

The main events of 2018 are:

Scottish BISFED Championships 5 May 2018

This is the National Championship for players who are classified in the BISFed classifications. Players who qualify from regional competitions will be joined by the Scottish National Squad players to compete for the National title in BC1-4 classifications. The tension will be high on the day with the top 3 in each classification selected for the Boccia UK Championships in June.

Boccia UK Championships 8 – 10 June 2018

Scotland will see the best players from the UK coming to Largs to compete in the Boccia UK Championships. This is a great opportunity for players to test themselves against the top players in the county also for players who are not in the Boccia UK programme the competition gives them a chance to showcase their skills in front of the Boccia UK coaches. Scottish Boccia are hoping to have players competing for the four UK titles on home soil.

CPISRA World Games 4 – 17 August 2018

Boccia will make its debut as a development sport at the CPISRA World Games in Sant Cugat and will take place from the 5 – 11 August 2018. The competition is for athletes who have cerebral palsy and hopefully some Scottish players will be represented. Selections will be made in February.

BISFED World Championships 9 – 19 August 

Stephen McGuire

2018

This is a very exciting competition for the home nations as the BISFed World Championships will held in Liverpool where the very best players in the world will be competing for team/pairs and individual glory. Hopefully some Scottish representatives will be competing for Boccia UK in Liverpool. Scottish BC4 and World Number 1 Stephen McGuire will be hoping to defend his World crown.

If you would like more information or how to attend these competitions please contact me at
Lewis.McConnell@scottishdisabilitysport.com

O Boccia of Scotland

Scottish Disability Sport held the first ever Scottish International Boccia Open at Inverclyde in Largs, where the competition took place from 13-15 October 2017.

This was a really exciting opportunity for Scottish Disability Sport and Scottish Boccia as teams from Boccia UK, England, Northern Ireland, Ireland, independent athletes, Denmark and of course Scotland all took part in Largs.

The format of the event was one that you would expect to see at a major international competition which is shown below:

Friday 13 October – team/pairs competition

Saturday 14 October – individuals pool matches

Sunday 15 October – individuals knockout and medal matches

My role during the competition was to coach the Scottish BC3 players both in the individual competition and in the team/pairs competition. Coaching in the BC3 pairs was a new experience for me and I learned a lot, for example how to coach on court during the one minute between ends. This is time given to players to prepare themselves for the start of the next end and during the team/pairs competition the coach is allowed to come onto court and coach within this time period.

I had the pleasure of coaching Hannah Craig and Sean McCann who are fairly new to BC3 international competition and their ramp assistants, Carole Craig and Paul McCann. They showed great fight and determination against some top players. Even though there were no medals this time the players and assistants should gain a lot of confidence from the competition and look to build on this for the future.

The whole event was a great success and we would like to thank everyone involved in the event for showcasing top boccia in Scotland.

Scottish medal winners

  • BC1/2 Team Bronze – Scotland/N.Ireland (Reegan Stevenson, Callum Glasgow)
  • BC3 Pairs Silver – Boccia UK, Scottish representatives (Patrick Wilson, William Wilson, Jamie McCowan, Linda McCowan Scott McCowan, Gary McCowan)
  • BC4 Pairs Gold – Scotland (Peter McGuire, Ross Munro)
  • BC1 Individual Bronze – Reegan Stevenson
  • BC3 Individual Bronze – Jamie McCowan, Linda McCowan (ramp assistant)

If you would like to look at the results in full of the competition please visit https://www.scottishdisabilitysport.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2017-Boccia-International-Open-Results.pdf

BOCCIA BONANZA

Following on from the Scottish International Open, Scottish Disability Sport held a Boccia Bonanza day at Easterhouse Sports Centre on 26 November.

The day was aimed at new players wanting to come and try boccia, and players who have just started playing at regional level.

On the day all players got to showcase and develop their skills while being coached by top regional and national coaches. The morning session was all about getting the players to take part in fun boccia activities and games followed by an afternoon session of training skills, drills and match play. The Boccia Bonanza was a great day and the future of Scottish Boccia is looking exciting.

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If you would like more information on either of these events please email me at: Lewis.McConnell@scottishdisabilitysport.com

Clubs Went to the City of Discovery

Lewis RefereeingThe Discovery Games have always been a key and enjoyable competition in the boccia calendar. This year the competition was held on 9 September at the Dundee International Sports Centre and once again it was a great success.

The clubs I help coach at are: West of Scotland Boccia Club, East of Scotland Boccia Club, Dundee Boccia Club and Right on Target Boccia Club. All four clubs had players competing in Dundee with some experienced faces and some new-comers. This made it a very exciting competition and one from which the clubs will take a lot of learning and experience.

My role on the day was refereeing – I know, poor players! However it was very enjoyable to referee high quality games and gain more experience in a different area of boccia. The most beneficial thing about refereeing for me is I get the best seat in the house to watch the players’ techniques and what shots they play, which I can then use to help the players when I coach at their club after the competition. I am looking forward to furthering my refereeing knowledge by doing my level 2 refereeing course in the near future.

I would like to thank Darren Thomson and the rest of the organisers for a great competition and thanks to Jen Scally and Martin Thomson for helping me with measuring and the score sheets.

If you would like more details of the competition or the club then please email me: lewis.mcconnell@scottishdisabilitysport.com

A Winning Weekend in Liverpool!

Liverpool hosted the Boccia UK Championships from the 11 August – 13 August. Players need to qualily from their Regional and National Championships as they battle to become the best in the UK.

You’re probably wondering what a coach gets up to during a competition?!

FRIDAY 11 AUGUST

Players,coaches and support staff all arrived for training, equipment checks and meetings. Some travel by car, others by train or plane. I was very lucky to have the BC4 World Champion Stephen McGuire drive me down.

Training

As a coach I needed to help the Scottish players get used to courts, e.g the speed and any uneven sections. I also helped the players practise different shot types that they might play in their matches and made sure they knew the playing schedule for the weekend.

Equipment check

Players had their equipment checked which was going to be taken onto court, e.g. boccia balls, wheelchairs and ramps. I was on hand with my fellow coaches to support the players if any of their equipment failed and tried to keep them focused ahead of the competition.

Meeting

All the Scottish coaches had a meeting where we discussed our expectations of the players and coaches during the competition, our roles as coaches during the competition and also how the weekend would help to shape the future of boccia in Scotland.

SATURDAY 12 AUGUST

There was a 5:30am wake up call, get up, dressed and ready, breakfast and arrive at the venue before 8am!

Warm Up

You could say that the players who were on first thing in the morning were unlucky but the advantage they had was they had the opportunity to warm up on the match court on which they would play their first round game.

For the players who had a long lie and didn’t start their competition until later on in the day, they  needed to do their warm up on the warm up courts provided.

When the players were warming up I was letting them do their personal warm up routine but helped them to stay focused and motivated.

Call Up Room

The call up room was where the players met their opponents and the referee and where the coin toss took place.

My role was too keep the player mentality match ready, to keep them relaxed if needed and to reinforce key things for them to think of and do during the match.

Game On

During the matches I would watch what the players were well doing well and the things they could work on. I would also watch for any momentum changes during the match and shout encouragements when needed. Watching the opponents was also important to learn their game for future matches.

Feedback

After the matches it was important for a coach to give the players good feedback to take into their next match and the rest of the competition. First of all I asked the players what they thought about their performance and how they felt about how the game went. Then we would discuss some things to think about and work on for the rest of their matches and the rest of the competition, after that, as a coach, I would finish on something positive about their performance to keep the players feeling confident.

Recovery

The recovery period after a match is really important for a player.

So as a coach I needed to make sure players were getting the proper recovery that they needed. This could be different for each player, e.g.:

  • Going out for fresh air
  • Going to the hotel for a rest
  • Getting some light physio
  • Getting some food
  • Listening to music

This was the general formula I used for the full day alongside my fellow coaches.

SUNDAY 13 AUGUST

On Sunday we generally used the same formula as Saturday.

Finishing the Pool Games

It was tough coaching the final pool games because naturally the players would think of every scenario that they needed to get through to the medal matches instead of focusing on their own performance (hmm I know a former player that used to do that). So for me it was keeping the players that I was with focusing on what they could do and let the rest take of itself.

Medal Matches

All the players were thinking about their winning speeches and how they were going to thank me for being a great coach, honestly! In all seriousness the players were busy focussing on their medal matches and their tactics for the games ahead going into the finals.

Celebrations

It was time to celebrate and listen to the winning speeches. OK they didn’t thank me, in fact they didn’t even do winning speeches. To be honest if they did they would thank my fellow Scottish coaches Andrinne Craig, Jennifer Livingstone and Claire Morrison for all the great work they done over the weekend and tell me to be quiet and do some work!

I would like to say well done to all Scottish players, coaches and support staff.

BC 1
Reegan Stevenson

BC 2
Callum Glasgow

BC 3
Scott McCowan – Gold
Gary McCowan (ramp assistant)
Jamie McCowan – Silver
Linda McCowan (ramp assistant)
Patrick Wilson – Bronze
William Wilson (ramp assistant)

BC 4
Stephen McGuire – Gold
Peter McGuire – Bronze
Ross Munro

I would like to give a special thanks to Glynn Tromans, Boccia UK Performance Coach, for letting me shadow him on the first morning.

If you would like to see videos and interview from the Championships then please visit my YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPl68FhmdC3nCzJHC1QbYsA

My email is: lewis.mcconnell@scottishdisabilitysport.com