Alan Gray – YPSP Blog December 2016

As a member of the Lothian Disability Sport committee, I helped to deliver the SDS (non BISFed) Boccia Open which was held at the Napier University Engage Sports Complex.

For those unfamiliar with the sport of boccia, it is similar to that of bowls and the word boccia itself is derived from the Latin word bottia meaning ball. Originally, it was a sport played by individuals with cerebral palsy but has now been widened to include other disabilities at some non BISFed events such as this one in Lothian. BISFed is the governing body for boccia and also manages the classification system used for international competition. More information can be found here:

This particular event brought entrants from across Britain which really improved the level of competition and saw up to 60 participants compete. The Open incorporated both those with physical and learning disabilities as the event was categorised. It was great to see so many young people really expressing themselves and enjoying the competition. As a venue for accessibility I was extremely impressed as I had never been before but for future events in the Lothian region I would highly recommend it.

I was also involved in managing the social media pages for SDS at the Central Parasport Day held at Grangemouth in October. The event was a huge success with a wide range of sports being delivered such as swimming, boccia and football, to name just a few.

There were over 60 young people at the event which was more than had attended in previous years and it was really good to see several school pupils supporting the event as volunteers on the back of attending Senior Pupils Disability Inclusion Training and showing so much enthusiasm.

That was the main thing I took away from the event – that from the senior pupils attending the Inclusion Training they were all keen to learn more and gain an insight into disability sport first hand. Richard Brickley MBE also delivered a talk to some of the parents present and I believe some new young talent was identified. I came away from the day feeling so positive as I saw myself in many of the young kids just loving making new friends and experiencing sport for the first time.  I thought it was also a really nice touch that two of our Commonwealth Games para athletes delivered a Q & A session which definitely inspired a few youngsters.

Apart from volunteering, I also follow the Scotland football team passionately around the world with 2016 seeing me visit Malta, Luxembourg, France, Prague and Slovakia. This month however it was slightly closer to home and a short visit to London.

The accessibility in London proved interesting and I had a narrow escape on an escalator but I survived. I would not hurry back but what the trip did do was inspire me to start a general travel blog for disabled people. This would include the do’s and don’ts in terms of accessibility in resorts, restaurants, airports and generally negotiating local areas. I will keep you posted if I get this idea off the ground.