John Daily

John Daily was awarded sportscotland’s 2022 Active Schools Volunteer Deliverer of the Year at the Coaching, Officiating, and Volunteering Awards.

He has been an Active Schools volunteer at Forehill Primary School for more than 10 years, playing a significant role in promoting sport and physical activity among pupils and parents. Over the last year alone, he has positively impacted over 100 pupils and their families, encouraging young people to participate and succeed in sport regardless of their ability.

What was your experience of sport growing up?

My experience of sport growing up was all about football. I played with my local team and school team growing up. The best thing about football and being in a team is the friendships and bond you get with the other players. Not just that – the coaches that helped me along in my journey. Probably the way they were as people, shaped me to be the coach I am today. They made sessions tough but fun. They turned negatives or mistakes into lessons learnt.

I didn’t get into running until my late 20s or early 30s. One of my friends was training for the Glasgow 10k, but he got hurt at football a few weeks before it. I thought, I'll do it for you – as he raised some money for charity. I didn’t realise how hard it was going to be!!! I finished in about 72 mins this spurred me on to become faster and improve my times. I joined a local Jog Scotland club and ran most days.

From this – it encouraged me to start a running club and join teams in the cross-country event for my school. Also, on a Friday staff would go for a run. At one point I think we had 12 heading out to plod around the streets of Ayr. From this we entered many events - 5ks, fun runs, 10ks, half marathons, Tough Mudder and some even completing marathons over those 10 years.

What is your volunteering experience to date?

When I started at Forehill in 2012, the first thing that I wanted to help with was the football team. From this I went and got my SFA coaching badges. This helped me progress not only as a coach but to learn new ways of working. I also helped coach my own son's team for a few years – again this gave me ideas and ways to work. Each year we get on average about 40/50 to training sessions for pupils of all levels of ability.

As my own running ability grew, I then assisted and then took ownership of the running club. Each year from this we could enter teams in the competitive cross-country events from Active Schools. Another very popular club and on average each year get around 30 at this club.

I also set up fitness sessions for both pupils and staff. We would do a Tabata style workout and over the sessions I could get 20 children and around 4/5 staff that would come along.

Family, Fun, and Fitness – in 2017 when we started Family Fitness it was a 5-week program, and each week a different local club/coach would come along and deliver a session. These sessions were in the evening and meant families could work out together and have fun. This would include yoga, dancing, cheerleading, trampoline bounce, PT sessions, karate, martial arts, judo, cricket, rugby, and football. The families would get taster sessions for local clubs and children and parents would get involved. Over the years many families have joined these clubs and now do them. It’s amazing that I could help build those links. Initially at the start we had five families turn up. At the end of term summer 2022, we had so many families sign up we needed to split the sessions in two. There were 48 families attending. It was great to see the progression over the years.

What inspired you to get into volunteering?

I just wanted to help and give children opportunities to access sport that they might not normally be able to. Sport should not have any barriers - whether it's cost, equipment, or being inclusive. Sport should be available for all.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

What I enjoy the most is seeing the progression of pupils over the years. Not just in ability, but also to see them grow as young confident individuals. That’s what makes me happy.

Have you had to overcome any challenges or barriers whilst volunteering?

Some children have needed access to football boots or sports gear. I have children say to me they can’t afford some equipment. I have gone out and got them what they needed to keep them involved.

Being inclusive to all – I have had children attend sessions that are on the ASD spectrum, I have had children attend with cerebral palsy. Its about making them feel included and adapting sessions for everyone. Even just the language you use to help deliver a session can change. Especially if you work with younger children.

What advice would you give to others looking to get involved in volunteering?

If you have a spare hour here or there, then just do it. You might just change a young person’s life for the better and you might inspire the next Eilish McColgan, Andy Robertson, or Erin Cuthbert.

Date published: 14 July 2023
Date updated: 14 July 2023


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