Last year was a fantastic one for UK sport, and the achievements of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2019, Ben Stokes, and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, epitomise the feel-good factor.
Speaking about the award, Ben said, "I'm up here receiving this award, but I'm not just up here by myself. Without the efforts that you (the team) put in this summer, I wouldn't be up here".
Meanwhile, at the same ceremony , Baroness Tanni-Grey Thompson received the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her achievements, including winning 16 Paralympic medals and breaking 30 track world records. Again acknowledging the part teamwork had in her success.
Growing up I tried multiple sports, but I was so fortunate I found something I love and became good at it. There were so many people, volunteers, who gave up their time and I wouldn't be here without them so thank you so much. It's been an amazing journey to see where the Paralympic movement is today. For young people today we have to make sure they have an opportunity to get active and play sport. - Tanni Grey-Thompson
It was great to see both highlighting the importance of team and the impact in having the right team around you can have on your motivation and ultimately your success.
Of course, both Ben and Tanni are right to attribute part of their triumph to the team around them, and the way dynamics between team members and the backroom staff all contribute to success.
Coaches are one of these behind-the-scenes heroes whose work is a vital cog in the machine. The right coach has many roles to play; they can inspire, motivate, pick you up when you are down, keep you centred. The list goes on. Ultimately it has to be a very personal relationship as trust is at the heart of it.
In acknowledgement of this, the focus of the next Sports Podge – the annual lunch celebrating sporting achievements – will be coaching.
The day will look at the impact coaching has on athletes, as well as the relationship between coach and athlete. It will also highlight how a coach at primary school can lead to amazing things, later on, providing the initial spark of inspiration, as well as the focus needed to transform it into a lasting relationship with sport.
There's still room for improvement
Of course, in Tanni's remarks in receiving her award, she is right that attitudes towards disabled athletes have changed even just during her career – but there is still a long way to go. She discusses some of the outdated attitudes in the Stumps, Wheels and Wobblies podcast summarised in this BBC article . It is well worth a read.
It was the inequality around para-sport that our founder witnessed as a games maker at the London 2012 Paralympics that compelled him to set up Kit Us Out.
He noticed that para-athletes from developing countries were often competing without the proper kit, so our mission to provide competition-level equipment to help athletes with a disability achieve their best was born. But wouldn't it be great if we lived in a world where para-sport enjoyed the same privileges as able-bodied sport? While we are edging towards the level playing field, opening up opportunities to everyone, no matter what their background or level of ability, is an ongoing part of the vital work to achieve this.
Finally, if you are a coach, thank you. You might not always get the recognition you deserve, but if it weren't for the fantastic work that coaches do at all levels we would be able to have those amazing sporting memories over the years.