Happy Christmas and a Healthy Happy New Year
It seems hard to believe that a whole year has passed since I last sat down to write my end of year review. This has been a big year for Welsh sport (as if every year isn’t!) and beyond the Rio Olympics and Paralympics, we had unimagined success for our footballers in Europe and rugby won 3 out of 4 of the Autumn Internationals.
As usual Wales excelled in disability sport in many different ways and looking back on my year, there have been some real highlights, from every corner of our organisation.
We had a wonderful start to the year at our Celebration Evening where we reflected on the success of disability sport in Wales in 2015. With the support of our partners and suppliers the bar for this event has been set very high and I look forward with great anticipation to our next celebration event in January.
I was very proud earlier in the year to present the Bronze insport award to Newport Live, in my home town. Another highlight, was to be able to present this at a local school which offers an inclusive solution within the education system. They had a great range of sports on offer there including archery but I managed to resist the temptation to have a go at my own sport!
insport sets a high standard for clubs and organisations across Wales to show their commitment, not just to disability sport, but to inclusive sport and physical activity. I really hope that in time, inclusive sport can help lead us to a more inclusive society. Across Wales we now have all 22 local authorities committed to the insport programme, with a further 20 National Governing Bodies of Sport on the journey. We have also been able to present 3 Gold insport awards this year and I really must congratulate Brickfield Rangers (Wrexham), Rebounders Trampoline Club and Twisters Trampoline Club (Cardiff) and Rhiwbina Squash Club (Cardiff) on their outstanding achievement.
Our commitment to equality is absolute and I was proud of our organisation when we received the Equality Standard Intermediate Level Award earlier this summer. Great governance is the bedrock of sport and at Disability Sport Wales we are seeking to achieve the very highest standards and remain committed to the sector’s leadership and governance framework.
No round up of the year would be complete without congratulating our medallists from the Rio Paralympics. We had 26 Welsh competitors in Rio and every one of those athletes made me proud. They all put in so much hard work and training over the 4 year cycle and just to join the prestigious group of people who can call themselves Paralympians is amazing. The fact that we won 8 medals is a great reflection on how Welsh athletes are doing on the world stage. We continue to excel – a fact that I attribute to great training methods, great support…and being Welsh of course!
Great support is something we do well – not just from our local authority officers who do such a fantastic job of delivering more that 1 million participation opportunities per year throughout our local communities, but a whole army of volunteers who give up their time and energy to make sport and physical activity happen for the rest of us. Coaches, parents, young and old, I am consistently surprised and heartened by the stories I hear and it is fantastic how much impact each and every one of them has made within their local area.
I am so pleased to see our partnership with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board continuing into 2017 beyond the life of the Sport Wales ‘Calls To Action’ funding. Our collaborative health disability sport partnership has made a significant impact across the health board and I very much hope it is a model we can roll out across Wales.
Next year will be exciting as we will start working on the ‘Get Out Get Active’ projects which are going to help some of the most inactive within our communities become more physically active.
We will also have our new inclusive Youth Forum in place influencing and supporting the Board of DSW and I am really delighted that we will be able to gain valued input from a group of outstanding young people.
Yet again we held the Arriva Train Wales insport Series event at the National Indoor Athletics Arena, a hugely popular event that is the gateway to many people trying sport for the very first time. An enormous amount of work goes in to this peak event of our calendar, but the feedback is always outstanding and I really want to acknowledge Arriva Trains Wales and the Rotary Club of Cardiff Bay for their continued support of the event.
Following my first full (and busy) year as Chair this is a chance to say thank you! Thank you to the staff, the board and the volunteers who have all played their part magnificently over the past twelve months. Thank you as well to all of our active participants, without whose numbers and involvement there would simply be no fun and of course thank you to our Welsh elite athletes and their coaches for the drama, the amazing memories and for making our Nation proud. Thank you also, to our sponsors, particularly Arriva Trains Wales and General Dynamics UK Ltd, to Sport Wales and Welsh Government, and to our partners who make such a big difference to everything we do. Finally, thank you for taking the trouble to read this.
I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Healthy Happy New Year – Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda