Young athletes receive expert coaching in three-day classes

Young athletes in training (picture by Rob Gray)
Young athletes in training (picture by Rob Gray)

Young athletes from across the Borders converged at the Heriot Watt Campus in Galashiels last week for three days of top performance coaching at the 17th Scottish Borders Sports Academy.

Designed to replicate a professional multi-sports training camp, similar to those attended by top athletes as part of their development, this year’s Academy covered seven sports – athletics, cycling, football, hockey, rugby, swimming and tennis.

A total of 112 youngsters were given the chance to work with both regional and national coaches and to interact with elite athletes from other sports through training sessions, coaching activities and workshops.

Run by charitable organisation Live Borders, the Academy provides a first taste of a multi-sport residential camp.

Live Borders’ Scottish FA development officer Drew Kelly, who co-ordinated the event, said: “The Academy is a great example of sports development in the Scottish Borders working with national governing bodies towards creation of great athletes of the future.”

The Academy’s aim is to nurture young athletes and help develop their skills to the next level. The format of bringing together athletes and coaches from different fields is considered to be highly productive and many former Borders Sports Academy participants have gone on to perform nationally and internationally.

Among the many good wishes sent via the Live Borders SD Twitter page was a special video message from five-times Paralympic swimming gold medallist Ellie Simmonds, who said: “Have fun, enjoy yourself, work hard, train hard and learn to be a good team player.”

At the end of a packed sporting week, all Academy participants gathered in Gala RFC’s Netherdale Clubrooms for the traditional Sports Academy awards ceremony, in which Councillor Euan Jardine, executive member for culture and sport, presented medals to athletes who had shown outstanding effort.

John McBay, Live Borders sports development manager, thanked all involved in the Academy, including the coaching teams, parents, young participants and all the behind the scenes staff who helped to organise the event.

“This event is an inspiration to the participants but, likewise, their enthusiasm and effort inspires the coaches too,” he added.

The 2018 Sports Academy Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards went to Kate Harvey (athletics), Ben Allan (cycling), James Paxton (football), Livvy Hogg (hockey), Jessica Kirkhope (rugby), Tilly Lakie (swimming) and Alexander Hart (tennis). The Sports Academy Class of 2018 Award went to the rugby squad. Heading up events for Live Borders were Neil Renton (athletics), Chris Bryant (cycling), Lee Makel and Greig Shortreed (football), Sarah Glendinning (hockey), Chris Dewsnap (rugby, Scottish Rugby), Alan Oliver (swimming), Josh Thomson (tennis) and John McBay.