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In a move that may well stir the competitive urge in Britain’s younger Dukes, the 13th Duke of Argyll could not have demonstrated more powerfully how far, as Patron, he is on message with Argyll’s newest social enterprise – Stramash.
At yesterday’s launch of Stramash, handed over into independence by Council Leader Dick Walsh from its parent body, Argyll and Bute Council, its Patron literally descended from the heights of his ancestral seat, a living statement of Stramash’s motto, ‘inspiration through adventure’. Continue reading
Over the weekend of 7th-8th February 2009, Argyll & Bute Council is hosting a sports coaching conference in Oban. It will run from 9am to 5pm on Saturday 7th in Oban High School; and on Sunday 8th in Atlantis Leisure, Oban.
Its aim is to:
- increase the number of sports coaches available and active in Argyll
- support them with courses, clinics, certification and mentoring
- see their work develop participation in sport and personal health
- contribute to support for sports tourism which is Argyll’s huge undeveloped economic earner.
Spokesperson for Sport and Leisure, Councillor Douglas Philand, wants to see the total of 250 participants at last year’s first conference beaten out of sight this year. He says: ‘This unique event will appeal to a wide range of people who are currently involved in sport or who would like to take the first step into sports coaching’.
He mentions the coaching courses and a coaches clinic hosted by the Council’s development officers at the event. The focus will be on the team sports of football, rugby, netball, shinty and cricket alongside trail cycling, canoeing, kayaking, orienteering, golf and weightlifting – reflecting the growth of interest in newer sports and activities across the area.
The recent growth of orienteering in Argyll through the Stramash schools programme and the Argyll and Bute Orienteering Partnership means that a plan for the development of instructors at various levels is needed. There are courses over the weekend to learn about teaching, coaching and participating in orienteering.
What is also welcome is that this initiative should return, through team and individual sports, the necessary healthy competitive element to Argyll which well meaning but unintelligent UK-wide public policy has been eradicating over the years. Without this, no one raises their game and people lose the ability to discriminate between the competent and the stellar.
There is associated work to be done. Any serious attempt to increase coaching, participation and achievements in sports in Argyll will be blind-sided unless the Council takes the lead in driving refinements in the ‘Disclosure’ system. Its focus on child protection is beyond question as a priority but the way it is set up at the moment actively obstructs the development of both participation and coaching. For Argyll is aware of such instances.
As it stands, the ‘Disclosure’ process is procedurally confused. It is unnecessarily expensive, bureaucratic and restrictive. Furthermore, because people have lost faith in the care and integrity of institutional procedures, many potentially worthwhile coaches do not put themselves forward lest, through some bureaucratic error, they be refused and, in Argyll’s small communities, face ruin by rumour in their own places.
Simplification of this system need not involve any loss of protection for children but it is utterly vital if coaching and activities across the spectrum of sport and leisure are to survive, never mind grow.
The aims of the Council’s Sport and Physical Activity Strategy, the Scottish Government’s Reaching Higher Strategy for Sport, the Active Schools programme – these all help but they’re some of the means, not ends in themselves.
The real prize is the development of Argyll’s wide range of potential winners across a wide range of sports including sailing, kite-surfing, canoeing, shooting, golf and angling.
With a coaching system and a policy to support and develop excellence in Argyll, the Council has only to look at the impact of Chris Hoy‘s remarkable achievements on the national and worldwide consciousness – and on paricipation – to see the benefits. How many kids have asked for bikes for Christmas to start their campaign to be the next Chris Hoy?
The boost to self-belief, pride of belonging and the international interest in a place generated by sporting achievements can indeed be bought. It doesn’t come cheap but the price is well below the value.
Well thought-out, strategic and prioritised infrastructural developments will be needed to lift the impact of high-calibre and widespread coaching to achieve its potential for Argyll. But this is playing to Argyll’s uniquely rich and broad spectrum of natural resources to support sporting achievement and sports tourism simultaneously.
The Council is to be congratulated on its strategic imagination in this initiative and its commitment to the overridingly primary value of such strategies to the development of Argyll’s economy.
For further information on the conference, contact Willie Young on 01546 604121.