Ensuring that disabled people can become coaches is hugely important. The inclusive coach project, which is funded by sportscotland, matches potential disabled coaches with mentors, who meet them regularly to identify their strengths and areas that they might need to develop.
Despite those measures, there are still too few disabled coaches—only around 7 per cent of coaches are disabled, yet one in five Scots are disabled—and I look forward to hearing suggestions from the minister about what else can be done to support them.
Mary Fee and other members commented on the need to ensure that we remove financial barriers. They affect everyone, not just people with disabilities, but we know that disabled people are more likely to be in poverty than non-disabled people, and the costs of transport to training and fixtures can be prohibitive. I was saddened to hear Brian Whittle’s example of a talented athlete who was unable to take advantage of a fabulous overseas representative opportunity because of lack of finance. That is another area that we need to address. For powerchair football, it can cost as much as £1,500 to put on a taster day, so finance is clearly a barrier to the development of new sports.
“Disabled people’s participation at all levels of sport and physical activity will increase through an action plan developed in partnership with disabled people through a new Equality in Physical Activity and Sport Forum by 2019.”
Three years on from the publication of that plan, I would welcome an update from the minister on progress and how disabled people’s participation in sport and physical activity is being measured, so that we can tell what progress has been made.
It is heartening to see so much positive growth and achievement in disability sports in Scotland, but we still need to do more to ensure that we remove any remaining barriers.