A Northampton wheelchair rugby coach is calling for more people to take on coaching rules to improve their mental health and wellbeing and support others to become active.
Northampton Saints inclusion officer and active wheelchair rugby coach, Jamie Higgins, has been praised by the lead charity for coaching in the UK for his contribution to supporting more active lifestyles within his community.
Jamie is now calling for more people to consider taking on coaching roles in light of the latest Sport England data suggesting an “alarming” reduction of coaches by almost a third compared to figures from 2021.
Jamie said: “I’ve always had an interest in sport delivery and I first got involved as a parent. I wanted to work where I could support those with disabilities and help support mental health – wheelchair rugby has allowed me to influence both of these things.
“Coaching is always at the forefront of supporting wellbeing so it’s vital we support these roles as much as we can.”
Jamie leads on all coaching for the Northampton Saints wheelchair rugby club - including both adults and juniors - as well as engaging with the community directly through school sessions.
Initially taking on coaching duties as his son was involved in the sport, he progressed from a volunteer to then taking on a part-time role working in the sport and has not looked back since.
Jamie continued: “Coaching in my local community has had a positive impact on social inclusion and, with Saints Wheelchair Rugby, we wanted to ensure the club was entirely inclusive, which starts with the session delivery.
“Anyone who is considering a role as a coach, I would say go for it. Anyone can take part and I feel strongly about ensuring that more people develop experience working with disabled people.”
UK Coaching has launched #Born2Coach in a bid to support a new coach recruitment drive. The initiative aims to significantly boost the coaching workforce by inspiring people to become coaches and empowering current coaches to enhance their abilities.
Praising Jamie’s coaching contribution, and raising the need to activate more coaches like him, UK Coaching CEO, Mark Gannon, said: “Jamie is a fantastic example of the UK’s incredible coaching workforce, who are essential to the happiness and wellbeing of the nation as we recover from the pandemic.
“We are delighted to be working closely with Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby and six further sports to help encourage more aspiring coaches into the workforce.
“Coaches will be an important conduit for engaging a broader range of people from more communities in physical activity and sport, and we want to play our part in supporting physical activity and sport to help rebuild a more active, happier and healthier nation.”
If you are inspired by Jamie’s story and want to find out more on how you can support your community through coaching, visit https://www.ukcoaching.org/born2coach.