UK Coaching has, for more than 30 years, provided the coaching workforce with the skills and knowledge they need to make a positive difference. The organisation is now widening its scope to do this on a broader scale, by adopting a wider definition of coaching and extending its reach into new markets where great coaching makes a difference every day.

 By Nick Rewcastle

Coaching, despite what many believe, is much more than the tracksuit narrative and the elite pathway; it’s about nurturing, listening, caring, getting fit, having fun and passion. Coaching enables everyone and anyone to get involved, and is a great opportunity for disabled people to benefit.

UK Coaching believes that great coaching encourages people to be more active and lead healthier lifestyles. Their mission is to put coaching at the heart of physical activity and sport.

According to Sport England, only 18% of disabled people participate regularly in sport compared to 40% of their non-disabled peers.

Taking action 

UK Coaching research suggests that 6% of coaches are disabled. However, less than 2% of those coaches who have gained a qualification since 2009 are disabled. With approximately 6.9m disabled people of working age in the UK, it’s clear that more can be done and that is exactly what UK Coaching is doing.

UK Coaching wants to ensure that everyone has a high-quality experience of coaching and believes that coaches should support more of their disabled participants to try to coach. The organisation is urging more sport and physical activity organisations to promote opportunities to coach their sport to disabled people, whilst also supporting local clubs and coaches to help them recognise the importance of a diverse coaching workforce, and the benefits diversity has for all coaches.

Disabled people, just as able-bodied people, have different life experiences and skills that are easily transferrable into coaching. Disabled coaches can act as role models and help others to become more active and get into coaching themselves.

Local community 

UK Coaching is fully focused on supporting local community clubs to get more active through programmes, such as the Sainsbury’s Inclusive Community Training programme, and is on target to have trained over 10,000 disabled and non-disabled support workers and volunteers in running accessible and inclusive physical activities for their groups.

The organisation is helping to raise awareness through promoting the importance of having greater diversity in its UK wide coaching workforce, including more disabled people as coaches. They are working in partnership with the English Federation of Disability Sport, Disability Sport Wales, Scottish Disability Sport and Disability Sport NI and UK Coaching’s National Disability Sport organisation partners to advocate for disabled people as coaches, as well as getting them more active.

It’s 2017 and we’ve seen the strongest team of disabled British athletes ever assembled recently lighting up London at the World Para Athletics Championships. Never has the ability of disabled people been highlighted so strongly.