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01 Jul 2021 69

Let’s hear it for our incredible coaches on the first ever national Thank You Day

UK Coaching is joining forces with the country’s sports organisations and our most treasured sporting icons to lead a nationwide applause on Sunday 4 July in recognition of the phenomenal efforts of our grassroots volunteers.

There are three million active sports coaches in the UK, and nearly half coach in a volunteer capacity. We want to say a massive THANK YOU to each and every one of you for your incredible work in keeping the nation motivated and moving during the pandemic.

Thank you, coach!

The collaborative effort from volunteer workers across all sectors has been an inspiration to us all during the last 18 months, and the volunteer coaching community, as the heartbeat of grassroots sport, has been a critical part of that combined national effort.

Through your enthusiasm, influence, and expertise, you have worked tirelessly and imaginatively to deliver opportunities to keep the nation moving, effecting positive behaviour change and improving outcomes for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities in this time of adversity.

It is for this reason that UK Coaching is encouraging the public and the whole coaching family to get actively involved in Thank You Day. You can mark the occasion in whatever way you like. This could include hosting, or joining in, a celebration event or raising your glass and saying ‘Cheers for Volunteers’ at 5pm on Sunday.

Engage on social media using the #ThankYouDay and #CheersForVolunteers hashtags and learn more about the menu of activities planned for Thank You Day here.

UK Coaching CEO Mark Gannon said:

Volunteers are the lifeblood of community sport and physical activity and have an instrumental role to play in building a healthier and happier society. Thank You Day is a wonderful initiative and a fantastic way for the public to support our amazing volunteer workforce, who have given so much to so many people during these turbulent times. They deserve this expression of national thanks for going over and above during such a difficult last 18 months.”

A reminder that later this summer we will be revealing the winners of our very own UK Coaching Hero Awards during a live online ceremony – recognising and celebrating the innovations and achievements of coaches who inspired the nation to keep moving during the coronavirus lockdowns.

From nearly 500 public nominations, 75 coaches across the UK were shortlisted as finalists and the British public voted in their tens of thousands for their UK Coaching Hero during UK Coaching Week. Further information will be released shortly.

Some of our inspirational UK Coaching Hero Awards finalists, who epitomise the ethos of Thank You Day by making such an invaluable contribution to their local communities, include:

Lucas Capalbo, a football coach from London who created his own online lessons through lockdown to empower young athletes to better deal with psychological issues on and off the pitch.

“Being shortlisted for this award shows that our efforts to help children and young people in London through sport is going in the right direction. Furthermore, it motivates us to keep working to ensure that every child has an opportunity to be positively impacted by power of football.

“We wanted to make sure that our young players remained physically active and engaged with our community, which is why I then proposed to deliver sessions on psychological tools through football to help players learn how to cope with mental challenges on and off the pitch.”

Carmela Chillery-Watson, a seven-year-old-girl from Wiltshire with Muscular Dystrophy, who created her own exercise videos for others with disabilities through lockdown.

“The pandemic has been hard, especially without daddy at home in the first lockdown and last lockdown because he was an emergency driver for Covid, and my Muscular Dystrophy disease. I even lost more muscle weakness and had more pain because of none of my therapy sessions were on.

“To help my Muscular Dystrophy I have to do daily physical therapy exercises, and when I watched Joe Wicks PE on TV I couldn't physically do it, so I said to mummy ‘why don't I do this but for people like me who can't get to their physio sessions?’”

Scott Burns, a rugby coach from Wigan who set up a UK-wide men’s mental fitness group.

“The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, lack of social interactions, hobbies and sports having to stop and, for some, long periods of isolation have had a damaging effect on all of us, myself included. I never see what I do as going ‘above and beyond’ it is being able to empathise and identify how people in the community are feeling and doing what I can to help them in any way. We all need help and support as we try to emerge from an unprecedented time.”

Roddy Slater, an athletics coach from Reading who provided access to his gym for his disabled participants during the pandemic as a safe place to exercise, and delivered online mentoring to local vulnerable children.

“Just having those support mechanisms in place, it’s essential to do that for disabled people who need to see a pathway for them in sport.

“For me, it’s about giving young people the tools to grow, to be better people. What I really like about my sessions is that the older ones can learn to mentor the younger ones, and that sport can mean freedom to these young people.”

Melissa Anderson, a gymnastics coach from Caerphilly, whose used Zoom sessions to keep her gymnasts active and connected socially throughout the pandemic, including organising group and individual sessions with a sports psychologist.

“The last year has been particularly tumultuous for everyone and I felt that it was important that I led the club and our gymnasts through the pandemic – showing that although things were difficult, we were ‘in this together’ and that sports and connection is so important in difficult times.

“It has given me even more appreciation for the social benefits of sport – and the huge importance of social interaction and friendship for our children and young people. I have always recognised the ’non-sport’ benefits of participation, such as confidence, resilience, health – but this year has really brought this to the fore for me.”

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