Aspiring young cyclists in Falkirk will get the opportunity this weekend to be part of a Scotland-first coaching trial that will enable 14- and 15-year-olds to gain a UK coaching qualification for the first time.
Falkirk Junior Bike Club riders will be the first in the country to undergo the UKCC Level 1 course, previously only available to 16-year-olds and upwards, as an inaugural tester training programme.
Earlier this year, when club coach Fraser Johnston read about similar age-group trials happening in England, he contacted Scottish Cycling’s coach education manager, Craig McCulloch, to discuss a Scottish version. In collaboration with British Cycling they have into turned their vision into a reality and both are excited to offer young members of the club the opportunity.
Fraser said: “I’ve long believed in the crucial role young people can play within the coaching workforce, and jumped onto the UKCC pathway myself as soon as I was able to.
"I’m delighted to be working with Scottish Cycling on this project and want to thank Craig McCulloch in particular for having the belief in our club to take this forward. I’d also like to praise the sportscotland UKCC Subsidy programme, which has, alongside Scottish Cycling, provided financial support to make the trial a reality.”
The club has strong links with local secondary school Larbert High, where pupils are able to use their PE time to complete work for the course. Head of PE Brian Townsend has been integral to the partnership between the school, club and governing body.
Craig McCulloch said: "We really value the partnerships that make opportunities like this happen and we recognise that young people may require more support in some areas, so this is an important part of the project."
Young talent at the heart
The club has always encouraged young people to take on coaching and volunteering roles and there has been an impressive level of maturity and commitment shown by their senior riders aged 13 to 15. As more young members expressed interest in gaining their qualifications, Fraser and Craig knew that the club would make a strong test case for this course.
Euan Burns, 14, from Larbert High, will be taking part in the trial. He said: “This coaching course will be an amazing opportunity. It’s allowed me to become more confident, and given me a new sense of responsibility that I have never really experienced before. It has also allowed me to build the initiative to come up with my own ideas and improvise when I need to, which are all skills that will prove useful outside of the coaching environment.”
Fraser added: “Our young members are involved in all aspects of the club and in fact most Saturdays arrive well before the sessions start and leave long after they finish - sometimes I have to force them to go home when it gets to half past two on a Saturday afternoon.
"They have been heavily involved in preparing for our first-ever club championships in a month's time, making up the race schedule for the day, securing a venue, planning the course, approaching local businesses for sponsorship.
"They have also shaped the coaching plans for this current block and all have written their own session plan, which has been delivered under the supervision of a senior coach.”
The countdown is on
Over the past four weeks the candidates have been completing online theory modules as part of the blended learning programme. The face-to-face part of the course takes place on Friday 15 and Saturday 23 June. The group will then undergo a first-aid course on Sunday 24 June, and after some post-course reflection and planning they hope to become officially qualified Level 1 cycling coaches.
We wish everyone at the club good luck with this exciting new project!
Find out more
Keep in touch with Falkirk Junior Bike Club on Twitter.
Discover more about club development at Help For Clubs on the sportscotland website.