Ready: Racket Up - Joey Courchene

My name is Joey and I am 37 years old. I moved to Staffordshire in 2000 prior to attending university to study for a business degree. My passion for sport has been limited until somebody encouraged me to join the North Staffs Special Olympics. I have been an athlete with the Special Olympics for 2 years and I take part in athletics and badminton.

It’s been my love of badminton what I enjoy most however. I am in the North Staffs Special Olympics badminton team and I attend two hour badminton sessions twice a week at Fenton Manor Sports Centre. Within the badminton group has two excellent volunteer coaches called Gemma and Derek. The rest of the team also commit themselves to the team by attending regularly and training hard for development of badminton as well as preparing for competitions.

Gemma and Derek are proud of the team formed for not just the hard work we put in by regular attendance but also the success we have attained by the winning of medals at several events both at regional and national level.

Our badminton group has been several places such as Cardiff, Sheffield and Birmingham to take part in badminton competitions. Our endeavours are also merited by our commitments to fundraising money by organising fancy dress evenings, backpacking and sponsored walks. The monies raised enable us to compete in the events we have succeeded in Badminton has made a difference to my life by helping me identify a sport I have a passion for as well as a sport I can develop.

The North Staffs Special Olympics charity itself has also helped me to achieve this.
The Special Olympics is renowned charity throughout the world what enables individuals with various disabilities to get involved in sport. Stoke on Trent and North Staffordshire are fortunate to have a well run and organised Special Olympics club to contain 4 sports offered to disabled athletes as sadly some parts of the United Kingdom do not have a Special Olympics club at all and if they did; they may only have 1 sport.

I feel the North Staffs Special Olympics charity has benefited the disabled community of North Staffordshire for sporting/cultural reasons and this is one reason why the City of Stoke on Trent has deserved the honour of being the European City of Sport for 2016.