THERE’S a new boy on the block, but where disability sports development is concerned Alan Oliver is definitely an old hand.
Originally from Alloa, Alan, 25, has already been involved with disability sports development through BadmintonScotland, for which he ran festivals that included people with a variety of disabilities, the main aim being fun for all. This is one thing which he intends to build on here in the Borders.
He has also played football for Scotland when participating at the 2007 Cerebal Palsy World Championships.
Borders Sport and Leisure Trust (BSLT) has appointed Alan to the newly created post of sports development officer for disability as part of its drive to encourage sporting participation for all, and he is meeting his new challenge head-on.
He told TheSouthern: “News travels fast and already I have received many phone calls and emails from various groups and individuals asking to meet up with me and to discuss the opportunities for developing sport in their areas.
“There is a huge amount of interest and positivity towards disability sport in the Borders and among the local communities.
“I am currently in the process of finding out what is already implemented in terms of disability sport, whether it’s through clubs, festivals or the coaching sessions that are being introduced. From there on I will evaluate what the barriers are and what I can try and put in place in terms of progression.
“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.
“Once I have talked to all the key partners I will be introducing a strategic plan which will help me and the athletes get to where we want to be.”
The 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 Alan is completely focused on getting his aims established as quick as possible.
“Youngsters who have a disability and attend mainstream schools need to know of the potential opportunities open to them,” he added.
“They are already playing alongside their peers within the schools and taking part in PE sessions, and they are happy doing that, but they can also be looking for other inroads to develop their skills. I need to get that message across and make myself available to talk with them and help them find the correct coaching and a suitable programme to develop, those who want to, into performance athletes.”
David Ferguson, chairman of SBDSG, added: “We have spent the past year reviewing disability sport across the Borders and two main points have emerged.
“First is that there is terrific enthusiasm for disability sport and making sport as inclusive as possible.
“The second is that no-one knows where to go, so the big priority has been to create a sports development post and we’re indebted to BSLT and the Bill McLaren Foundation for sharing our vision.
“We are convinced that Alan will help take disability sport in the Borders to a new level and would appeal to the Borders Community to get in touch with us and Alan, whatever their interest in physical, learning or sensory disability sport.
“We are delighted with Alan’s appointment and know he will be a success.”
Anyone interested in speaking to Alan should contact firstname.lastname@example.org