THE NEW DRIVING FORCE BEHIND LOCAL DISABILITY SPORT

Alan Oliver and Betty Scott of Scottish Borders Disability Sports Group
Alan Oliver and Betty Scott of Scottish Borders Disability Sports Group

ALAN OLIVER may be the new boy in town, but as far as disability sport is concerned he is already proving a smash hit.

Originally from Alloa, Alan, 25, took up the post of sports development officer for disability in April and has since come to live in the Royal Burgh to be close to his base at Border Sport and Leisure Trust’s (BSLT) Dunsdale Road offices.

A keen sportsman himself, Alan won a gold medal at the European Parabadminton Championships in Dortmund earlier this month and also played football for Scotland when participating at the 2007 Cerebal Palsy World Championships.

Alan told The Wee Paper: “There is a huge amount of interest and positivity towards disability sport in the Borders and among the local communities.

“My main aim is to help to develop children and adults, whether it is to just participate in sport or to strive towards the performance pathway, which in turn can lead to Paralympic and national success.”

Alan’s appointment is for an initial one-year period and is a joint-funded venture between BSLT, the Scottish Borders Disability Sports Group (SBDSG) and the Bill McLaren Foundation. Funding is being sought to extend the post, but for now he is completely focused on getting his aims established as quickly as possible.

Last week Alan was on hand to welcome Betty Scott, the long-serving chair of Ettrick and Lauderdale Sports Council and chair of SportBorders, as the newly-elected chair of SBDSG.

Betty will take over the role from David Ferguson, who stood down after a year in office, during which he carried out an extensive review of local disability sport.

Ferguson said: “It has been a very encouraging year and I feel we have achieved a lot in re-organising the group, which is a branch of Scottish Disability Sport, and creating a structure to take disabled sport forward in the Borders.

“All members of the group have played their part, but a key step was the appointment of Alan. Working with BSLT, Active Schools, SBC, clubs and individuals, I know that Alan will prove over the next year just how valuable the group and disabled sport development is to the Borders community.

“I would just urge the funding bodies, and others, to back the group by extending the funding beyond this pilot year, and also ask Borders clubs, be they rugby, football, swimming, athletics, cycling or whatever, to think about how inclusive they really are and consider approaching Borders Disability Sport for help to open themselves up to more disabled people in their community.”

Alan presented plans to the AGM last week in which he outlined a series of events to be held across the Borders, including an open swimming meeting, but stressed a desire to move away from one-off events and create regular coaching sessions in different sports in different parts of the region.

For more information, email: aoliver@bslt.org.uk