Everyday Heroes: Andrew Stewart
Through his roles within Northern Ireland’s Ulster Badminton, Andrew has nurtured talented players to success at national and European level. He is the coach of double world and European Para badminton player Niall McVeigh while also coaching several emerging talents who have countless titles to their name. In 2015, he won the Performance Development Coach of the Year Award at the UK Coaching Awards.
Andrew’s coaching journey started while he was still at school following his GCSEs when a teacher suggested he got his coaching badges. He coached in primary schools before moving to Sweden to play professionally. While there, he was asked to do some more coaching. He had only considered this as a hobby previously but began to think about it as a career, and during this time, he earned the position of head coach of a club in Sweden, as well as the under-19 assistant national coach. Since this time, he has developed as a coach, and his passion is obvious.
‘What I like most is to see the development of players,’ said Andrew. ‘I know it can take time, I have players as young as four and enjoy seeing them develop their skills properly.
‘I also like to develop the player as a person. They learn a lot of things through being in high performance sport – timekeeping, morals, life skills. Coaching gives them structure, and it gives them something to fall back on in terms of psychology and make-up. It is about the journey, not the destination.
‘The best support for me in coaching has been mentoring. This started with my mentor in Sweden, Tom Reidy. Tom initially asked me to go play in Sweden, and he has been my mentor since.
‘He is never afraid to tell me his views, and these are really valuable. We still Skype now.
‘Mentors can change over time. There are other high performance coaches that mentor me and vice versa. We work together, supporting each other. Julian Robertson, our national coach, is also my mentor, and he is my go-to person at the moment. For me personally, mentoring is huge.’
So why should people who might be thinking about getting involved in coaching do so?
‘It’s about what you get back from coaching that is really beneficial,’ Andrew continues, ‘For a start, there are the relationships with so many people and so many different experiences, your day is never the same!
‘It is always fun and interactive, it’s a really enjoyable job. And if you are lucky enough to be involved in talent coaching, you have the opportunity of seeing the world and different cultures.
‘Coaching is a holistic thing, you really do find out a lot about yourself.
‘I reflect a lot on my coaching sessions and how I can develop, and I tell my performers to do the same. Reflection is really important as a coach. When you’re busy, you don’t get chance to think about what you do as you’re so busy, but it is important to think about it after and learn from this so you can develop.’
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