Ayrshire Para athletes are picked for top coaching roles in next generation bid

Two Ayrshire Para athletes have been tasked with the job of coaching Scotland’s next generation of boccia stars.

Brothers Scott and Jamie McCowan, from Dundonald, have joined Scottish Disability Sport’s (SDS) two-year volunteer coaching apprenticeship scheme.

The opportunity is part of Sportscotland’s Coaching Futures programme, which aims to increase the pool of homegrown world-class coaches and retain sports-specific knowledge within Scottish sport.

Scott, 30, and Jamie, 27, former pupils at Dundonald Primary School and Marr College, know a thing or two about boccia, having represented Scotland and Team GB at the highest levels.

Scott is a three-time Paralympian, having represented Paralympics GB at three consecutive Paralympic Games.

He narrowly missed out on a bronze medal at Tokyo 2020 in the BC3 individual competition in what was his best result.

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But he’s won medals at European and World level and is four-time British champion.

Scott would like to transition to performance coaching when he retires from the sport and the SDS programme will support that process.

He said: “I am delighted to be part of the Coaching Futures programme.

“It was always my intention to move into coaching at the end of my playing career and this allows me to develop and learn the skills required whilst still competing.

Scott McCowan is pictured at the Tokyo Paralympics with his father Gary, who is Scott's ramp assistant
Scott McCowan is pictured at the Tokyo Paralympics with his father Gary, who is Scott’s ramp assistant

“This means I can pass on my knowledge to the next generation whilst still trying to achieve success representing Scottish Boccia and Boccia UK.

“As a result, I should hopefully be a better coach by the time my playing career comes to an end, which can only be a good thing for the development of the next athletes coming through. I can’t wait to get started!”

Jamie is a two-time Paralympian, having competed at both the Rio 2016 and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

He is also two-time European champion, having achieved this accolade in pairs and as an individual, across two classifications (BC4 and BC3).

He has also been crowned British champion on two occasions, as a BC4 and then as a BC3.

Jamie aspires to compete in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in what will be his last before moving into performance coaching.

He said: “This role means a lot to me as it will provide me with valuable coaching experience as well as an opportunity to give something back to this sport.”

In total, SDS will have four coach apprentices; the others being Peter McGuire, a former Paralympian and Stephen McGuire, a three-time Paralympian.

A spokesperson for SDS said: “The introduction of Coaching Futures apprentices, with exceptional technical knowledge of the sport, will provide more targeted coaching opportunities for our talent pathway players.

“This intervention will help Scottish Boccia address the coaching gap between home country level and that of the Boccia UK full-time programme.

“Furthermore, by developing these coaches now, it will positively shape the future of high performance boccia coaching in Scotland.”

Boccia is a precision sport, like bowls and pétanque, for athletes with severe physical disabilities. It has been a Paralympic sport since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Great Britain won a gold that year.

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