Yorkshire Jets: Kadeena has provided answer to question that stumped me – Francis

Stacey Francis picked Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermotts brains at the Leeds Sports Awards (Picture: Chris Midgley).
Stacey Francis picked Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermotts brains at the Leeds Sports Awards (Picture: Chris Midgley).
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I attended the Leeds Sports Awards at the The New Dock Hall, Clarence Dock last week and I was lucky enough to be seated in between Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott and the club’s captain Danny McGuire.

Needless to say, I used the opportunity to pick both of their brains and gained a small insight into the success that they experienced last season, along with sharing stories about our mutually stilted starts to the season. Sigh!

The biggest thing I took from the night, however, was the inspiration I felt after reading the blurb of Disability Sportswomen of the Year nominee Kadeena Cox.

Inspiration definitely isn’t a word that I use often. I even struggle to fill in those Q&A’s for programmes, and when asked who has inspired me the most in interviews names do not just roll off the tongue.

However, by Saturday I was sufficiently topped up should the question arise again in the future.

Having been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and having suffered a stroke in 2014, what lies ahead for Kadeena this year is a place on the Team GB paralympic track cycling team and the paralympic athletics team. This phenomenal woman will be representing our country at the Olympics in Rio in two completely separate disciplines. Like, wow!

This is an extremely brief summary of Kadeena, but someone I was so happy to have been able to meet on the night.

The morning following the awards, I attended a session called Primetime in Husthwaite Village Hall, North Yorkshire as a result of a project that I am managing at work. Primetime is a pilot scheme set up to engage older adults in physical activity.

North Yorkshire Sport has provided boccia and new age kurling equipment to the scheme, which is successfully engaging older people to participate in physical activity.

Augmented kit has also been purchased and developed through a grant from The Orchards of Husthwaite so as to increase different individuals’ ability to participate.

The beauty of the sessions lies in how varied and interesting each activity is across the two hours. I particularly enjoyed the break for tea and biscuits.

The group employs their coach Chloe, herself a Paralympic gymnast, to coach the sessions. Despite having cerebral palsy, Chloe is now able to train volunteers, to ensure that people of various ages and abilities can compete and enjoy all the activities on offer.

I am told that when she initially joined the group her session delivery, speech and repartee were not to the high level that I witnessed last week.

Being a very competitive person myself I was surprised to find kindred spirits in the participants of Primetime.

Having recently lost my Nan, with whom I was lucky to have a great relationship, the session equally delighted me and made me sad. My Nan lived on her own for many many years after my grandad passed away and she could definitely have benefited both from the physical and mental stimulation of a group like this if there were more in existence.

One 90-plus-year- old member of the group has suffered from polio from the age of 17 and lost all use of her right side. However, her hand-eye coordination, competitive spirit and critical nature were something to behold.

I felt both extremely welcome and a part of their family by the end of the session and wouldn’t hesitate to advocate on behalf of the scheme and others like it.

Attending Primetime made me go away and do some research about volunteering with charities such as Age UK. I would love to be involved in something worthwhile as this experience has inspired such a strong feeling inside me.

Earlier this week I received a lovely email from Robin, one of the group leaders, who said that Primetime members are now avid Superleague followers and Yorkshire Jets fans.

Last weekend’s game was the final game of the first half of the season. We did suffer another loss but the sellout crowd definitely witnessed an inspired performance.

We came within minutes of getting our first win of the season after leading Manchester Thunder for 50 minutes. Confidence in the camp is high after an impressive and improved performance against one of the league’s leading teams – you will find our confidence renewed heading into the second half of the season.