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#GreatCoaching: Helping disabled people grow in confidence

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Posted 7th June 2019

To many people, Bob Martin is simply known as ‘Basketball Bob’.

“I think some people actually believe my surname is Bob!”

Having played the game in America as well as across Europe, the 65-year old has since coached for over 30 years since his playing career finished.

He’s coached clubs, Universities and had time as the coach of the Great Britain deaf basketball team in the mid 1990’s.   Bob is now the heartbeat of Danum Eagles in Doncaster, a club looking to return to its former glory out of its new base at New College Doncaster.

He regularly coaches over 1,000 children a week through his work with schools, including special schools.  The club has also recently received funding through Expect Youth to coach an additional 400 young people a week as part of the Essential Life Skills programme.

Having coached championship winning teams, it’s his work with the local Mencap group in Doncaster that is the focus of our #GreatCoaching story, and has brought Bob some of the most rewarding times of his coaching career.

“They’re just the greatest,” Bob enthused.

“They give you 100% all the time.  They do need a lot of work, because they don’t get a lot of activity.  I do six sessions a week and it’s really gone well.

“I’m fortunate that I’ve been coaching for a long time, and I can use my experience to make sure every single one of them can get involved.  We buy the right equipment so everyone can participate.  They have an absolute riot.”

Bob’s first involvement with coaching disability sport came when he was the national coach for the Great Britain deaf basketball team in 1997, and he still works with deaf players to this day.

He thinks many coaches can be apprehensive about working with people with physical or learning disabilities.  However, he believes it’s something that any coach should embrace as an opportunity to develop.

“As I got older, working with the Mencap groups with an opportunity for a new challenge, in the nicest possible way.  I won national championships, but to get an opportunity to work with these groups means you have to be creative as a coach.

“I don’t treat them any differently to anyone else I’ve coached, just because of their disability. I’m going to expect everything – I’m still going to push them to be the best they can.  The experts can tell me if I’m pushing them too hard.  It works, and I think they enjoy being pushed to their limits and getting a sweat on.

“There’s a guy who comes to the Mencap group who is an Olympic medallist.  It’s an honour to be coaching him.

“I go into a lot of special schools. The kids enjoy it, and it’s an opportunity for them to get involved.  They get overlooked a lot of the time, so it’s great to give them this opportunity.

“Younger coaches may think that’s not ambitious, and their goals for coaching may be different.  They may want to get as high up the coaching ladder as they can.  But for me, it’s the right time of life for me to do it, and it’s really rewarding.  In my opinion, if somebody doesn’t stretch themselves and doesn’t do things in coaching, they’re missing out.”

As a man who has seen coaching at a variety of levels, what does Bob think makes a great coach?

“For me, there’s all different kinds of level of great coach.  I was coached by someone who was a Hall of Fame coach and had great knowledge.  But he gave us no end of life skills. He made sure we had an education.

“I went to a wedding recently with some players I’d coached.  It was interesting, as they said that while we had won things together, they said they learnt a lot of good life skills – punctuality, discipline.

“It made me think – I’ve got all these medals, but there’s a lot more to it.  Having an effect on people’s lives is fantastic.”

To find out more about Bob and Danum Eagles, including information on attending sessions, contact Bobmartin60@outlook.com

Find out more about UK Coaching Week HERE.

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