Sport Pembrokeshire Profile - Rick Walton

Rick Walton - Sport Pembrokeshire Peripatetic PE TeamThis month’s Sport Pembrokeshire profile is former ‘Cricket Man’ and member of the Sport Pembrokeshire Peripatetic PE Team Rick Walton.

Rick tells us how he became involved in sport – back in the day!

‘I come from that allegedly ‘simpler generation’, where it felt like all we had to distract us was a football/rugby ball. Don’t think I saw a new cricket ball until I was about twelve but I came to love bowling. In my family and circle of friends, sport or some kind of activity was everything. Oh – and yes, we did climb trees!’

How did you get involved in Sport Pembrokeshire?

‘I was fortunate enough to be ‘The Cricket Man’ – i.e. Community Cricket Coach for Pembs – for about a decade, prior to joining Sport Pembrokeshire a few months ago. (As you can imagine, it was a big money transfer. I’m still looking through yacht catalogues!)’

What does your role entail?

‘I am part of the Peripatetic P.E. Team, and am also leading on some research, alongside Swansea University, around child wellbeing. So I have two very different roles.’

What particularly interests you about sport and your role?
‘I am becoming increasingly interested in how we capture the impact and benefits of activity. Clearly one of the issues around this is that much of the short-term and long-term ‘gain’ is hard to measure. We coaches (and I suspect everybody who has ever stepped on a sports pitch) know that good and often powerful stuff happens... but how to prove or suggest that?

In our research work I am trying to encourage children to offer real insights into this, *themselves*, without too much direction from teachers or coaches. This is new territory for me. Elsewhere, I am trying to remain a positive influence, in our PE lessons.’

Why it is so important to keep investing in school and community sport for youngsters?

‘It has never, arguably, been more important for young people to live well and develop a healthy relationship with activity – whether that be by walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, or playing cricket/football/netball/whatever. On a human level, this is essential: on an economic level; all societies need their populations to get healthier. Early experiences of sport and activity are utterly critical to that aspiration towards wellness for all.’
What sort of difference has the pandemic made to the team?

‘Covid has been difficult for all of us. In practical terms there have, quite rightly, been important protocols to observe. I know my colleagues in Sport Pembs have tried to be particularly diligent around this.
But once the sanitising, space-awareness etc have been dealt with, we have been very much in the business of providing a kind of ‘normality’ – i.e. sport. That’s been a real privilege.’
What are your hopes for school sport in Pembrokeshire moving forward?
‘I take no backward steps as an advocate for sport. I believe it is actually under-used, in schools, as a means to educate, inspire and develop young people. The cooperation, communication, creativity and skills used to make games work can and does have profound consequences on wider horizons. So fund activity well.’
Have you trained/coached any Sporting stars?
‘I hope I make all the children I coach feel like a star (corny but true).’
Do you have an interesting sporting fact about yourself?
‘I have been a chronic under-achiever at various sports – and loved every minute.’