Border athletes on top form at all-inclusive school for sport

From left Charlie Jack, Jamie Francis, Jessica Main, Emma Jamieson, Moll Byres and GB player Sarah Robertson flew the flag for Selkirk at the hockey sessions (picture by Stuart Cobley).
From left Charlie Jack, Jamie Francis, Jessica Main, Emma Jamieson, Moll Byres and GB player Sarah Robertson flew the flag for Selkirk at the hockey sessions (picture by Stuart Cobley).

Talented young athletes form across the Borders converged at the Heriot-Watt Campus in Galashiels last week for three days of top-performance coaching at the 16th Scottish Borders Sports Academy.

Over 120 youngsters aged between 12-16 took part in sport-specific elite coaching and development workshops with regional and national coaches leading technical sessions in athletics, cycling, football, hockey, triathlon, rugby, swimming, tennis and for the first time ever, dance.

It was the first taste for many of the athletes of a multi-sport residential camp and they follow in the footsteps of numerous past pupils who have gone on to perform at national and international level, including GB and Scotland hockey player Sarah Robertson. She was on hand throughout the week, assisting Scottish Hockey development officer, Janet Jack.

“Borders hockey is in such a good place at the moment and I’m always keen to help out when I get back,” said Sarah who, as well as training with the Scottish and GB squads, achieved her degree in law this year.

“I haven’t really done much coaching yet but these kids make it easy,” she added. “You don’t have to install any enthusiasm in them – it’s already there and they just lap up any further development skills you can pass on.”

Tennis Scotland’s national junior coach, Derek Croll, had a similar experience while helping out district coaches Ally McCulloch and Kate Bull at the Borders Tennis Centre in Galashiels.

“The youngsters here this week have been extremely motivated and are keen to work really hard,” he said.

Tennis on the Road coach Kris Soutar was also on hand to help out, along with George Garcia Cubero, head of the Borders Tennis Academy.

McCulloch added: “This high-quality team has delivered some invaluable advice throughout the week and I could see the players taking it all on board and start to think more about the shots they were going to play and about how to develop themselves into being much better players.

“It provides an excellent platform for talented athletes from across the region to train and learn about their sport.”

Now recognised by the governing bodies as a sport, the dance sessions proved very popular this year – not just for the dance students, but to all those in attendance who were treated to a unique interactive show on Tuesday night by guest coaches Beverley Grant and Olegs Kiricenko, from Edinburgh-based dance company Room 2 Manoeuvre.

Triathlon was also a new addition this year, giving students a chance to try their hand at multiple sports.

Selkirk swimmer Lindsay Jack commented: “I had never tried triathlon before but enjoy all the disciplines, so this has been a great opportunity learn how to put them all together into one sport.”

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 in partnership with national governing bodies towards creation of great athletes of the future.

“This year’s Academy had been one of the biggest and most successful yet and I look forward to seeing the athletes who have been present this week go on to reach their sporting goals in the future.”

Also, heading up events for Live Borders were: Neil Renton (athletics), Chris Bryant (cycling), Becki Hodgson (dance); Lee Makel (football), Janet Jack (hockey), Chris Dewsnap (rugby), Lauren Jocelyn (swimming), Caroline Wallace and Robyn Methven (triathlon), and John McBay (senior sportsdevelopment officer).