|Coaching Today For The Stars Of Tomorrow
L-R: John Flatley, Anthony Fairhurst, Matthew Kirkwood, Rob Burrows and Jon Lister.
More than 150 coaches across Wigan and Leigh have benefited through a pioneering scheme to help develop their skills.
In 2007 Wigan Sports Development Unit were allocated £20,000 from the Wigan Sport and Physical Activity Alliance (SPAA) to set up a Coach Development Project.
Now, at the end of the 18 month project, the majority of the coaches have gained new awards that Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) hope could help unearth future Olympians and sports stars of tomorrow.
Rob Burrows, Coach Development Officer at Wigan Sports Development Unit, said: “The SPAA Coach Development Project has been a great success.
“With the ever increasing cost of coach education courses I think it has been of huge benefit to the voluntary sporting community of the borough.
“It has enabled volunteers, who give up their own time week in week out, to increase their coaching skills and knowledge at reduced or no cost to themselves or their club.
“The impact that the project has had on the local community cannot be under-estimated.
“If coaches are able to increase the standard of their coaching this in turn will lead to a higher standard of performance from their players or athletes while at the same time attracting new people, young and old, into sport and physical activity – and who knows, with the London Olympics in 2012 just around the corner we may be helping to unearth the Olympic champions of the future!”
A total of 217 applications were received for grants of up to £250 of which 151 were granted - either full or part funding - towards the cost of their chosen course.
Rob added: “The response that the project received from local coaches and volunteers was excellent. As this stream of funding has come to an end we are now making every effort to find a way in which we can replicate the funding.”
Some of those who have benefited include 50-year-old John Flatley who will take a UK Athletics Level 2 qualification in June. He coaches 7 to 10-year-olds at Wigan Harriers. John said: “This type of funding is essential. These youngsters are the future of athletics, there should be more funding like this available.”
Matthew Kirkwood, 17 is planning to take his UEFA B qualification and one day hopes to coach Premier League football.
While Jon Lister, 39 from Hawkley Bridge Under 10s football team and Anthony Fairhurst, 39 from Highfield Grange Rangers Under 8s Football Team both gained qualifications to get the best out of their young players.
Jon said: “It’s about giving the kids the best coaching we can.”