A clutch of sports champions are heading for Stornoway to speak and lead workshops at the Lewis and Harris sports coaching conference this weekend (Friday October 5th to Saturday 6th).

They include the first person to swim the Minch, a badminton Commonwealth gold medallist and the head of Ross County FC’s youth development squad – all ready to share ideas and expertise with a small army of island sports coaches.

Sports development officer Steve Munro estimates there could be as many as 500 people involved in sports coaching in Lewis and Harris, with every club and group running development activities led by dedicated volunteers.  It’s these people who will get most benefit from a two-day conference designed to bring a chance for continuing professional development (CPD) to the island, to reduce the huge amount of time already invested in travelling off-island for training and competitions.

Steve said: “Most sports and clubs need level two coaches, who need to have done their training in their sport, in coaching and in related issues like child protection. During this two day conference the deliverers will work with coaches to give them new information and ideas and, in some sports, this will contribute towards maintaining their level of professional competence.”

The event, organised by Lewis and Harris Sports Council, starts on Friday evening (October 5th) with workshops on swimming at Lewis Sports Centre and on golf and football at Back Football Club. There’s a full day on Saturday, with workshops, talks and an opening presentation by young athlete Kara Hanlon, from Stornoway.

“Kara will speak about how she started and her journey from training in a 13-metre pool in Lionel to where she is now, competing for Edinburgh University and close to Commonwealth Games standard.

“We’re also very fortunate to have Abbie McNally from Inverness Harriers, who is in contention for paralympic selection as a T37 athlete in 100m, 200m and long-jump, assisting with the disability sport workshop.

“Our badminton presenter, Dan Travers, is a Commonwealth gold medallist and Sarah Hogwood, who is leading the rugby session, is lead coach for the Caledonia girls rugby programme.

“Davie Kirkwood, from Ross County FC, will be delivering football workshops down at Back aimed at working with U18 and senior players as well as at the U15 and below age group.”

One of the coaches will almost literally be in two places at once. Swimmer Colleen Blair, the Scottish Swimming Association regional development officer, delivers workshops in Stornoway on Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday will feature in BBC Scotland’s Adventure Show, which filmed her successful attempt to cross the Minch earlier this year.

Steve said: “This conference offers a huge range of opportunities for active coaches and a chance for anyone new who thinks they may be interested in coaching to come along and find out more, meeting some of the others already involved in their sport.
“I would encourage people to take this great opportunity to come along and help with the development of sport in Lewis and Harris.”
Full programme details and booking are available at https://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/media/12345/2018-sport-coaching-booking-form.pdf