Bob Christie: Coach of the Year Finalist Q&A
Bob Christie has been a standout leader in our sport for a number of years but 2022 was his biggest yet. Bob coached Scotland’s para bowls squad in a successful 3 day Tri-Nations test match series against Australia, as well as accompanying the team to Home Nations events at Solihull Indoor and Leamington Spa. As Head Coach of Para Disciplines at Birmingham 2022, with 8 athletes across 3 disciplines Bob was responsible for managing all preparation, selection and the performance of our record-breaking Para players who won all Commonwealth gold medals available to them, the first nation to achieve this clean sweep at the Games.
Now shortlisted as a finalist for Coach of the Year in the 2022 Scottish Sports Awards, we spoke to Bob to find out more about his incredible year…
Q1) Describe your journey to and time at the 2022 Commonwealth Games as well as the emotions around the record-breaking para bowls gold medal haul?
“The preparations in the 2 years prior to the games was very challenging due to the Covid restrictions placed on the squad as we were limited in the amount of training sessions that took place and events that we could enter. Considering all this the squad committed themselves and put on some great performances to warrant selection.
“Once the team was selected the training was intensified and we travelled to Leamington Spa on 3 occasions to get a familiar feeling to the setup of the greens and surroundings.
“The team travelled down 5 days prior to the games starting but unfortunately in the week before I tested positive for covid and it wasn’t until the first day of games that I was allowed to travel down to Birmingham and eventually after providing a negative test was given my accreditation and took my place alongside the rest of the team. What a relief!! I was grateful to the other coaches who assisted the para players in that week but kept a close eye on things by phoning on a regular basis for update on progress.
“It was an almighty relief to be able to be on the side lines whilst the team’s performed to the capabilities that we worked so hard to reach and book their places in the knockout stages of all the disciplines.
“The men’s pair of Kevin and Garry started the ball rolling and I was extremely proud of how they performed in the final and delighted for them both. The next day got even better when the ladies pair of Pauline and Rosemary with sheer determination and a lot of skill, outclassed the Australia’s and made it 2 great wins.
“Just after that win I had to come back down to earth again and concentrate of the Visually Impaired pairs last section game which saw them win through without losing a game.
“The Visually Impaired pairs was possibly the most emotional and challenging because both Robert and Sarah had to overcome the heartache of losing out in the bronze medal match in the Gold Coast and it was with elation that they got through to the final.
“This match took my emotions to another level when Robert and Melanie along with Sarah and George triumphed against Wales to make it a clean sweep of all disciplines which was absolutely brilliant and the icing on the cake. I couldn’t be more proud of all the players.”
Q2) How did you first get involved in coaching and why would you encourage others to coach?
“From an early age I was encouraged to help out at a local football team who were a couple of years younger than myself which I thoroughly enjoyed.
“Once I took up bowling I got involved with a group of youngsters and developed them on the road to becoming good bowlers. It wasn’t until I was the Director of Development that I attended an inclusive coaching session, having enjoyed the experience and on seeing the difference that it might make on someone’s life that was less fortunate than myself it struck me that I would like to be involved.
“When as a Bowls Scotland Regional Academy coach I was invited along to a Scottish Disability Sports training session and never looked back. I applied for and was selected as the Para Bowls Coach for the Commonwealth Games in 2018 at Gold Coast. The following year it was agreed that Bowls Scotland would take over the programme for the High-Performance Para players in line with mainstream bowlers and that was when David Gourlay MBE, approached me and asked if I would be interested in taken on the position of Bowls Scotland Para bowls Head Coordinator.
“I was delighted to accept this offer and the fact that he had the confidence in my ability to get the best from the players. As they say the rest is history.
“Coaching is a great way of still being active in the sport you love but also it gives great satisfaction to see someone improve at the game no matter what level they play.”
Q3) How does it feel to be nominated for Coach of the Year in the Scottish Sports Awards?
“I’m extremely honoured and proud to be nominated for such an award and to go toe to toe with some of the country’s greatest coaches is a reward for all the efforts and performances that the squad have put in over the past couple of years.”
Q4) In your opinion, what is the single most important aspect of coaching?
“To be respected, to respect your athlete, to gain the trust of the athlete on what you are trying to achieve as a unit.”
Q5) What advice would you give to anyone looking to take up bowls?
“Give it a try, unless you do, you won’t know what you are missing. It’s easy to be hooked for life.”
Thanks to Bob for his time and for sharing his coaching experiences with us, we congratulate him on being shortlisted as a finalist for such a prestigious award and wish him all the best for next weeks' awards night.