Paula’s story

“Six months ago if someone said you’ll be doing a sports coaching course I would have said, ‘No way!’.”

Paula Ronnie at the Olympic Centre, London

I had been out of it all for 20 odd years. I used to get out the house by volunteering but once I had kids I stayed in more and I lost a lot of confidence. Then I just focused on what I couldn’t do. I’m not a sit around person really – I used to go to the gym and do athletics and swimming when I was younger but I became more self-conscious once I’d turned into an older teenager. No way was I putting a swimming cossie on! So I started doing less. I would always say to the kids, get out there, don’t just do nothing. But I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching.

My mate did the first Para-legacy Agent course, she told me about it, and I thought “what do I know about sport”. But once I’d spoken to Colin, there was no getting away. He knew I was interested, but I was dragging my feet. So he kept calling. At the beginning of the course I was worried about all sorts especially my sight issues. But for every concern there was an answer. On so many courses there is no support, but with this my worries weren’t just brushed aside.

I finished the Para-legacy Agent course in April. I passed. I was so proud of myself. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if it hadn’t been for Colin, Robin, and the friends I made on the course. The great thing is that everyone is patient and accepting of whatever your limitations are.

I’ve made loads of new friends. I’d say to them “How am I going to do this, I can’t see the ball”. They would talk me through it. Luke (another Para-Legacy Agent) would say “it’s OK, you’ll have an assistant”. He’s done the course before and he understands because he has disabilities and problems with his sight.

I used to stress myself out about what I could and couldn’t do, so I would avoid doing anything new. Now I can confidently say I can do this part and not that part. My confidence is so much better. It makes me a much happier person. I’ve done loads of exciting things! I met Prince Harry and Boris Johnson. It was a bit scary but it was fun. All this stuff is so far out of my comfort zone it’s unreal, but sometimes I forget that!

I started taking my 9 year old son, Ronnie along with me. I always had a feeling Ronnie would do something in sport. He really got involved in the day and led some of the sessions. When he was coaching I was so proud. I gave him an opportunity to do something other people can’t.

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