Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Simon Jones: The Role of a Development Officer

Simon Jones is the Disability Sport Wales Development Officer for the Vale of Glamorgan. Having intially got in to disability sport through volunteering, he shares his route in to sports development and his ambition to make sport and clubs inclusive.

It was my last year in university, when I volunteered with a powerchair football club, this sparked off my interest in disability sport.

 After finishing university I got in contact with the Disability Sport Wales Development Officer in Cardiff and started volunteering from there. I remember walking in and seeing this lady with bright orange hair, luckily this didn’t put me off and I helped out with numerous disability sport clubs for the next two years.

Rhoose Bowls Club
Whilst volunteering for Disability Sport Wales and Sport Cardiff I gained lots of qualifications and valuable experience, in my spare time I helped with a few clubs to gain experience in lots of different areas of disabled sport. This also gave me the opportunity to go to Malmo in Sweden with the Cardiff Celts wheelchair basketball team and Dortmand in Germany for the European Disabled Badminton Championships.

Through volunteering I had enough experience to be successful in gaining a job as a Development Officer with Disability Sport Wales (this is a hard task) in Merthyr Tydfil. Three years on I then moved on to become the DO for the Vale of Glamorgan.

I am now sat at my desk in Barry reflecting on my weekly duties and role as a DSW Development Officer (there are quite a few). My first point of call is making sure I work with my colleagues in the Vale of Glamorgan Sport and Play Development department, I am lucky as all of my colleagues are very positive about inclusion in sport and have all provided opportunities for disabled people to play sport, plus they all enjoy a Carvery for lunch too.

St Andrews Major Golf Club
I find that it’s so much easier to include everyone in sport if the person running the programme has an open mind and is very positive about providing sport for everyone no matter what their ability. I’ve noticed that if the person running the session is enthusiastic and makes an effort to include everyone in their session, people will come back to the club, not because of the amazing facilities but because of the coach.

Although there is a need for segregated sport sessions I have seen the massive benefits of inclusive sessions, non disabled and disabled people gain so much from being in the same environment and the summer Sport and Play programme in the Vale highlighted this enormously. I remember refereeing an energetic dodgeball match with over 20 children taking part, five or six disabled children mixed in with no issues at all. This highlighted the importance of inclusion to me, as the children really got to engage with each other and make friends whilst also encouraging each other to launch the dodgeballs into the opposition.

Hopefully more and more clubs can offer inclusive opportunities and I will be happy to work with them to provide these and for them to see that the benefits are massive.

If you are interested in volunteering in  sports development in the Vale of Glamorgan, contact Simon Jones. sljones@valeofglamorgan.gov.uk.

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