Nici Russell

What was your experience in sport growing up?

As a child and teenager, I didn't take part in much sport. It was only in my early 20s that I started Taekwondo and found my love of sports and earnt my 1st Dan. When my physical health then declined, and I became a full-time wheelchair user I stopped sports for a long time. A few years ago, I got back involved as I wanted to stay active. I have since earnt 2nd Dan Taekwondo. When my health allows, I train in wheelchair cross country and run with my dogs and later this year will take delivery of my own racing wheelchair.

Although I love Taekwondo it is harder for me to be as involved as I would like due to my physical disabilities. This is what led me to start Judo in January 2022. It gives me a chance to do full-contact martial arts in a way that is safe and that I can manage. It allows me to get out of my wheelchair. I graded to 5th Kyu end of 2022.

What is your volunteering experience to date?

I have volunteered with a number of different clubs and sports. I help coach Taekwondo and have helped coach disability athletics. Shortly after I started Judo, I knew I wanted to volunteer in some way. Timekeeping gives me the chance to help make sure events can be run for all ages and abilities by giving my time. It has also helped me to learn new skills and meet many new people.

What/who inspired you to get into volunteering?

I went to a Judo event with my coaches to learn more about the roles of the officials. With their help, I was able to learn more about becoming a Timekeeper and qualified in May 2022. If my coaches weren't so active in their volunteer roles as officials, I wouldn't have felt able to get involved. Their support has been key. Michele helped me to learn what I needed to not only pass the Timekeeper exam but feel confident in my role. I enjoy being a Table Official. I have also completed the CWPS and CWPO courses to further help my club. I am looking forward to volunteering at future events and working towards Contest Recorder.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I enjoy the challenge of learning new skills and being safely able to push myself out of my comfort zone. Knowing I have something to offer and that I belong somewhere is important to me. I also feel it is important to volunteer to keep events running for others to enjoy.

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

I am Autistic and this means that meeting new people and going to new places can be very difficult for me. I have had to manage many new interactions and situations whilst volunteering. I have also had to learn to pace myself and work within my physical and mental health restrictions. My wheelchair has never been an issue in my voluntary roles with Judo Scotland. With support from Michele and Charlie, I have been able to become more confident in trying to talk to strangers and manage different situations. I have also had great support from other volunteers and made new friendships. It has been important for me to know that other volunteers are approachable and want to help but they also respect my limitations.

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

I think the key to volunteering is to find something you enjoy, that you feel motivated about and to have the right support. You may try one role and feel it isn't right for you. That is fine, there are many roles to try, and other volunteers are happy to help answer questions and offer support. It is just about starting somewhere and having an open mind. Knowing your limits. Pushing just to the outside of your comfort zone so you can grow and then continuing to do that.

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


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