Edinburgh parkour coach from Access Parkour recognised for work with local teenager

When an Edinburgh coach began teaching parkour ten years ago, he never knew about the impact he would have on one young man’s life

A local teenager, who has been learning parkour for the last five years, is now enjoying a newly found freedom thanks to one Edinburgh coach.

Matthew, who has Down’s Syndrome, first took an interest in parkour five years ago after he discovered videos of the alternative sport online. It was then that his mum, Angela, got in touch with Access Parkour to inquire about private tuition, and with the exception of some disruption due to Covid-19 pandemic, the pair have met weekly for the last five years.

And now his coach Adam Romaine has been nominated for the ‘Change A Life’ award by Parkour UK, the sport’s national governing body, after they visited the Edinburgh organisation and saw first hand how his classes were benefitting 17-year-old Matthew, who faces physical and learning challenges. The nomination comes ahead of the 25th annual UK Coaching awards on December 6, a momentous event where coaches nationwide are recognised for their incredible contribution in transforming people’s lives and communities through sport.

Matthew and Adam have built up a special rapport since they began working together five years ago.

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    Adam, who began teaching Matthew parkour in 2017 and is head coach at Access Parkour in the north of the city, said the transformation in Matthew’s ability and confidence has been great to see. After starting sessions with basic jumps and balancing techniques, the 17-year-old is now able to perform more challenging movements including vaults and swinging from bars.

    Adam said: “He instantly fell in love with it and wanted to keep coming back. It’s really lovely to see him more and more confident in himself and in his movements. I’ve seen him grow from this quite shy young boy to this slightly more extroverted teenager.”

    Matthew’s father, Gavin, who attends the weekly classes with his son, said the agility and confidence gained from parkour classes with Adam has given Matthew the self-assurance to try other activities outside the gym - from climbing on trees in the woods to attending the Ninja Warrior facility in Leith.

    Gavin said: “His confidence, physical ability and flexibility has come on fantastically. The movement aspect of it has also helped for balance. If we are out walking the dog he will go up and climb on a log, things that previously he probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to do. But since working with Adam, he’ll happily go and do that now and be able to go out and explore off the back of that.”

    Adam Romaine has been shortlisted for a 'Change A Life Award' ahead of this year's UK Coaching awards on December 6.

    “It’s fantastic, it really is. It’s amazing to see how he has come on and learnt these different skills. And what he learns from those classes with Adam he then brings them home. In our garden we’ve got some monkey bars and as soon as he learns something new he’s desperate to get home and try it out and show the rest of the family. The relationship they have built up over the five years is second to none, it really is. Matthew is completely trusting with Adam with regards to the way he teaches him parkour.”

    Gavin added: “I can’t speak highly enough of Adam for the work that he’s done with Matthew over the years and how he’s brought him on. I think being recognised for this is a testament for the work that he has done and I think he deserves it.”

    Matthew, who suffers from hyperacusis - a condition that makes him sensitive to loud noises– initially wore ear defenders to the classes five years ago, but as his rapport with Adam developed over the years, the sports loving teenager no longer wears them and is more confident to speak to others in the gym.

    Adam recalled: “When he first came to parkour he needed to know exactly who was in the gym with him. If he arrived and there was an extra person he would be very nervous. He didn’t want any music played - if there was even a little bit of noise he would wear big noise cancelling headphones.

    Matthew was inspired to start parkour training after he watched videos about the sport online. Now the sporty teenager can perform challenging parkour movements including vaults and swinging from bars.

    “We started with really basic levels of parkour, lots and lots of play, lots of movement to find out what he could and couldn’t do but I always tried to push him a little bit in every session.

    “As the years progressed he’s way more confident and he’ll ask for music to be put on. He’ll chat to other people that are in the space. He doesn’t wear his noise cancelling headphones anymore at all. He’s comes on a long way in his parkour ability as well as confidence within himself and within his movements. It’s really great.”

    After hearing the news that he had become a finalist for the coveted award, Adam said it was “completely out of the blue” adding “it was really lovely and a bit of a surprise.”

    Adam said: “I’ve never really pushed for any awards for coaching. I coach because I enjoy it and seeing people getting better. I feel pretty good about it.”

    Matthew, 17, first started his training with Adam when he was 12 years old. The agility and flexibility gained from his weekly sessions has given him confidence to try more physical activities outside of the gym.

    He added: “Sport and coaches for local communities are incredibly important, it gives them something to do where they can be active, which is good for mental health as well as making new friends in different places where they feel safe and can learn physical literacy skills at their own pace.”

    The annual awards, which recognise the remarkable contributions coaches make – from delivering technical coaching to supporting participants both physically and mentally - are regarded as one of the most prestigious awards within the coaching community.

    Over 350 coaches from around the UK have been nominated this year ahead of the event that will take place on December 6 at the Queens Hall in Leeds.

    UK Coaching CEO, Mark Gannon: “This year the bar has been raised once again, and whilst we are fully aware of the power of coaching, our brilliant coaching workforce continues to surprise us and change lives and communities.”

    Mr Gannon added: “It is so important that we acknowledge and thank our coaches as they work tirelessly to support more people into physical activity and sport across all levels - to help build communities, tackle inequalities and inspire people to be the best they can be, whatever their aspirations.”