Stevenage para-badminton star Gobi Ranganathan coaching Hitchin schoolboy
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
A Hitchin schoolboy with mobility difficulties has started one-on-one badminton coaching with England para-badminton star Gobi Ranganathan.
Ross Ruggles, who is in Year 9 at Hitchin Boys’ School, lives with great stiffness and pain in his limbs. He also has impaired vision.
Ross took to badminton when he was in Year 7, and has been playing regularly since then.
The Herts Disability Sports Foundation recommended Gobi after Karen Grieves, Ross’ counsellor at school and family support worker, asked for help finding a coach for him.
Ross said: “I really liked the session I had with Gobi today and am looking forward to more. I hope this will help me get better at badminton because I enjoy it.”
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Gobi said: “I’m looking forward to not only helping Ross with his badminton skills, but also to enhancing his overall well-being.
“Regardless of ability, sport is a great way to improve fitness and confidence too.
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“I’m also hoping to show the Herts Disability Sports Foundation can provide inclusive sport for all abilities.”
The lessons represent a reunion for Stevenage, Herts and England player Gobi, who was was taught at PE at Stevenage’s Heathcote School by Dave Smith – now of Hitchin Boys’ School.
Ross’ mum Helen said Mr Smith and the sports department at Hitchin Boys’ had been stalwart supporters of her son.
“They make him feel included in all sports,” she said.
“They are credit to the school and all the senior schools.
“I also want to thank the assistant head Miss Oliva, who has been amazing in her support.
“Ross makes us all very proud as he has to overcome daily pain and challenges that we all take for granted.
“As parents, we think this opportunity to be coached by Gobi is a unique and special chance to better his skills in a sport that he loves and is good at.”
Mr Smith said: “Ross has always enjoyed his PE and sport at Hitchin Boys’ School, and has worked hard to develop his skills and fitness in athletics, basketball and tennis.
“He is a pleasure to teach PE, and I look forward to seeing him develop in a sporting capacity further as the years progress.”
Ross is getting the coaching thanks to Personalised Commissioning, a Herts County Council grant award as part of Early Help support, and Team Around the Family.