Special Olympian wins East Midlands BBC Sport Unsung Hero Award

Posted: Wed, 28 Nov 2018 09:39

Special Olympian wins East Midlands BBC Sport Unsung Hero Award

Matthew Chilvers was announced as the East Midlands BBC Sport Unsung Hero last night on East Midlands Today. He will now go forward to represent the East Midlands at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards at the Genting Arena in Birmingham on Sunday, 16 December

Matt, aged 22, has an autism spectrum disorder but he has not let this hold him back and through his volunteering he acts as a role model for other people with special needs showing that they too can play a role in sport. He has volunteered since he was 15 supporting his coach at Desford Lawn Tennis Club every Saturday morning coaching on the junior sessions. This past 12 months he has coached on the following activities to encourage and support people with special needs to take up sport. This has led to the club being awarded the LTA Disability Project of the Year Award 2018

  • Tuesday: Tennis for people affected by cancer, average 18 attendees a week.
  • Tue, Monday: Inclusive Tennis Sessions , average 14 attendees a week.
  • Tuesday: Older 50+ tennis (People with sight impairment, recovering from operations, dementia) average 27 attendees a week.
  • Special School coaching sessions at the schools and the club, 2 schools supported a year.
  • Tournaments run for Special schools and Day Care settings, 2 events run a year.
  • Supported his coach on a Tuesday evening coaching the adult team
  • Supported Martyn Waite, one of the national disability coaches, at Dan Maskell Tennis centre running sessions to raise awareness of coaching people with special needs

Matt supports the sessions by setting up activities, running activities, organising tournaments, visiting schools to talk about tennis and promote the activities as well as supporting the clubs head coach run mainstream sessions during the week. He has successfully taken the LTA level 1 coaching award and is looking to take his level 2 award. He's undertaking this while studying for leisure HND at Loughborough College. He also plays tennis with the men's second team at the club and represents East Midlands Special Olympics at tennis and plays at Learning Disability Tournaments around the country. Giving people with special needs the opportunity to play tennis and improve their health, social contact and gain confidence is so important to Matt as he say "I get so much out of sport I want other to have the same opportunity. Just because you have special needs does not mean you can not play sport and have fun"

Coaching has provided great opportunities to build confidence, skills and has given amazing opportunities to show that having autism need not hold you back, it's also supported Desford Lawn Tennis Club win the Lawn Tennis Association Disability Project of the Year Award 2018 for its life changing activities. To be put forward for this award the programme had to win the county award and regional award and Matt went to the Priory Club at Edgbaston during the WTA Event in June to collect the award as Matthew and his coach Alec were the coaches delivering the scheme. One of the points the LTA made was that they really impressed that the club had a coach with special needs volunteering on the scheme.

Matt has been invited to be included on the "The Learning Disability and Autism Leaders' List" being run by The Guardian and Dimensions Charity for his coaching. This is the first such listing to celebrate the dedicated, selfless work of 60 people with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis, over 600 people had been nominated before the final 60 were selected and it is hoped that this will accelerate change in the public perception of people effected by autism. The Learning Disability and Autism Leaders' List is a way to bring together success stories from people with learning disabilities and/or autism and share them with the world. This list will be announced by the charity and Guardian on 3rd December 2018.

Tags: Deliver Sport, Disability Sport, Featured-bigger, News, Tennis