Meet one of the coaches behind the DSActive Summer camps

Thanks to generous support from Lightbox and the City Bridge Trust, DSActive was able to run two summer camps this year, in Shooters Hill and Tooting.

We had a fantastic team of coaches working at both, bringing enthusiasm and expertise to the sessions. In order to share how they found the experience, one of our team of coaches from the Summer Camps has written us a guest blog about his experience:

Q: What’s your coaching background?

I am a Level 2 qualified tennis coach. I first started volunteering in tennis coaching at the age of 13, assisting my tennis club’s coaches in the delivery of the ‘mini tennis’ programme. At around 15 I completed my Tennis Leaders Award, going on to do my Level 1 and Level 2 as soon as I was eligible at 16 years old. Since starting university, I also now do a lot of schools coaching, which certainly presents its own challenges!

Q: What are your favourite sports?

In terms of playing, I am a competing member of both a tennis and a cricket club, so these are certainly among my favourite sports. Additionally, I like football as well, and hold a season ticket at West Ham United.

Q: What do you enjoy about sports?

Sports present themselves at so many opportunities that can help an individual throughout their life.

For me personally, as well as getting me outside and active in the fresh air, I enjoy experiencing the ups and downs of sports- you will always have good days and bad days! Socially, it has enabled me to make a lot of friends, including gaining valuable life lessons from older members at my respective clubs.

Connected to membership of any sports club are a wealth of social events that allows sport to be something much bigger than just playing. Upon starting university the first things I turned to were cricket and tennis, allowing me to quickly make friends with like-minded people from all year groups. Academically, I find that sports are a welcome break from revision, giving something to look forward to during the day, especially around exam season. Finally, I really like the sense of belonging to my clubs and my team, and being able to demonstrate teamwork has proved very useful for me when applying to jobs and further/higher education.

Q: What are your thoughts on coaching people with Down’s syndrome?

I understand why some people may see it as a challenge, due to some of the physical and social impairments that people who have Down’s syndrome may have. This could lead some people to believing that it will be hard to get people with Down’s syndrome to do much in sport, with limited progress made.

Q: What is your motivation for coaching people with Down’s syndrome?

The Head Coach of my tennis club suggested I get involved in the DSActive summer camps. I thought that getting involved would be a new challenge in my coaching career. I was also very interested to see the similarities and differences between coaching people with learning difficulties such as ADHD and Autism and children with Down’s syndrome.

Q: What advice would you give other coaches who are coaching people with Down’s syndrome?

It can of course be challenging and you are exhausted at the end of a session, but it is not as difficult as you might think!

You have to remember that in reality, Down’s syndrome is nothing more than a learning difficulty, and simply explaining activities in simpler terms than you might for someone without Down’s syndrome of the same age. I was very surprised this summer at the level of football knowledge some of the participants had! Physically, the people with Down’s syndrome who I worked with were very capable, and you may be surprised by the sporting ability. Many like to play sport regularly, right up to the competing at the Special Olympics for Great Britain. Just like the rest of us, sport gives people who have Down’s syndrome an opportunity to make friends, as well as providing valuable networking opportunities for their parents.

Thank you to our fantastic coaches for all their work this summer. If you’d like to get involved in a club near you, a map of all our sessions is available here!