Social Care Ideas Factory runs an initiative called TS-Sport. Its aim is to promote disability sports opportunities and raise awareness of impact disability sports can have for those who have disabilities.
As part of series of taster sessions being drawn up by TS-Sport to allows those with disabilities to try out sports that they may not have otherwise considered pursuing recreationally or competitively due to a collective decisions that need to be considered.
The first partnership for TS-Sport got underway with the Scottish Federation of Coarse Angling, (SFCA) on Thursday 4th September 2014. Scottish Federation of Coarse Angling is the Scottish national governing body for the sport of Coarse Angling. The federation was formed in 1960s and was set up with a founding commitment to protect the Coarse fishing stocks in Scotland. Moreover, the Angling Development Board was set up to encourage all members of society to give angling a try and hopefully through the Club Angling programme to take up the sport on a more regular basis.
In July this year with inputs from Julie McElroy, TS-Sport explored what opportunities Angling can offer for people with disabilities. Ryan MacDonald, the Project leader for TS-Sport met with John Rae who is the Development Officer for Scottish Federation of Coarse Angling. Commenting on the initial partnership with Scottish Federation of Coarse Angling on behalf of TS-Sport, Ryan said “I met with John to discuss the possibilities of establishing opportunities for people with disabilities to try out Coarse Angling. John’s enthusiasm made me think we could do something in partnership in an attempt to get more disabled people involved in coarse angling and as we’re always on the lookout for new taster sessions and this made sense”.
Angling is considered by many the largest participatory sport and recreational opportunity in the world. Angling by nature is reflected upon as a therapeutic sporting activity too as it enable anglers to take up the sport as a hobby rather than competitively. There are many commercial fishery were people can do Coarse fishing and along the River Clyde canal route and the Falkirk and Edinburgh’s canal offers the same opportunities to do Coarse fishing too. The sport of Angling open doors in many ways as John put it to me, it is also a relaxation sport which allows you to escape the busy domestic life and come and do some angling in an environment which offers peace and tranquillity.
Eight participants signed up for TS-Sport’s Angling session which is a credit to how many of them were keen to try out Angling. Many of whom were experiencing Angling for the first time. The session took place at a commercial fishery, Springwater Fishery in Dalrymple in Ayrshire. This is Ayrshire’s first commercial fishery for Coarse fishing which comprises of three lochs within a total area of twenty acres. The team were incredibly fortunate with a glorious sunny day which made the fishing venture all worthwhile.
Each fishery has its own jurisdiction. Coarse, Game and Sea fish stocks are handled differently by national and local regulatory bodies.
Springwater Fishery is viewed to be an accessible venue and John is keen to encourage more wheelchairs users to access Angling. The more people who use these facilities, the more there is a case to be heard to allows SFCA to improve its accessibility strand for people with disabilities.
As the group session got underway, there was a sense of competitive spirit starting to emerge between the boys and girls. It has to be said, the closer you are to the shallow end of the loch, the higher the chances of catching lots of Coarse fishes! Towards the end of the day, John reckoned the group has caught sixty Coarse fishes.
John was pleased with how the session went as he said “The first session was excellent as we were delivering to an adult group and because of this we as coaches felt more relaxed, we had a talk as always to see how we felt the session had gone and other than the rather poor fishing in some areas we as coaches had enjoyed the session. The owner of Springwater also had a chat with us and sees no reason why over the winter he cannot upgrade all the road side stances to suit wheelchair access, and would be willing to set aside these stances if any disabled person booked them”. He went on to say how enjoyable it was working with TS-Sport, “I personally enjoyed my day, usually as the co-ordinator the best part of an event is after it is over and everything has passed uneventfully, but with the group I enjoyed my day more than usually”.
The success of the session was further echoed by Martin McClaren who is also a coach said “I have never found a group so enthusiastic and obviously keen to learn. As I tried to explain there are so many different methods and techniques, to try and incorporate any number at the start would not only confuse but could also deter someone new to angling”.
Reflecting on a very successful session for TS-Sport, Ryan praised the work of John Rae, John Jnr and Martin, saying “They were a credit to the SFCA. The advice, instructions and expertise from the team on the day was superb. Throughout the day the three men covered a fair distance up and down the side of the fishery, making sure everyone had the support they needed to have the best fishing experience possible. There was quite a bit of toing and froing involved in organising the event, and in the weeks leading up to it John was always available to answer any questions we had. He was only too willing to do anything he could to make the organisation of the event as smooth as possible”.
Looking towards the future of how Angling could be evolved around for people with disabilities, John and his team are hoping to work with TS-Sport in future to look at two avenues of work. Firstly, to look at creating a Scottish National disabled angling team that can one day compete internationally. Many who attended the event are keen to look at this.
So it looks like this is just the start of a very promising partnership for Scottish Federation of Coarse Angling and TS-Sport.