Wednesday 12th February 2020
Q&A with Gemma Lumsdaine | GB Wheelchair Rugby Athlete
We recently caught up with Gemma Lumsdaine, a GB Wheelchair Rugby Athlete and advocate for both gender equality in sports and more provision for disability sport.
SSS: Gemma, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule of studying and training to speak with us. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am 22 year old wheelchair athlete who plays wheelchair rugby for the GB Talent Squad. This Squad helps athletes make the transition to the Paralympic squad and play at the highest level. I am also in my third year at Abertay University studying Sports Development and Coaching. So when I’m not playing, training and studying, I coach at Dundee Dragons Wheelchair Sports Club.
I believe at the moment you are traveling to Sheffield for a training session, tell us a little about your sporting journey?
From a young age I was involved in individual sports such as swimming and horse riding which I was advised to participate in as a form of physiotherapy. In 2013 I joined my local wheelchair sports club Dundee Dragons which has been life changing for me as at the time I struggled to accept my disability and had low confidence but seeing other people being independent and succeeding in life really changed my perspective of disability. When I first started at Dragons the club only participated in rugby league but through a whirlwind of events I ended up playing my first game of wheelchair basketball for my country with only two weeks practice! The Dragons then developed into a multi-sports club which includes basketball, tennis, badminton and curling. I continued to play basketball for Scotland for a few years and loved it. However due to my impairment level I struggled with some of the fundamental skills such as shooting so I was recommended to try Wheelchair Rugby as it is designed for people with impairments in three to four limbs and involves many transferable skills from basketball. I fell in love with rugby and have worked my way up within the Sport and now play for the GB talent Squad.
As you know Scottish Student Sport have partnered with Scottish Disability Sport with the aim to nationally improve the sporting experience of students with a disability. What do you think about that?
I think this a fantastic project as sport has so many mental, physical and social benefits which everyone should be able to experience no matter what their disability, gender, age, ethnicity, religion or sexuality. I would like to see all students in Scotland with a disability being provided with the opportunity I have had. Without sport I do not know what my main motivation would be otherwise. One thing I do know is that I would not have the community feel around me like I currently do, I would be much more isolated.
As part of the national aim, SSS and Scottish Disability Sport are working alongside Abertay University in their working group which you are a part of. For other Universities or Colleges that might not currently be doing this work, can you share what being part of this conversation and what this development means to you as a student?
It’s such a privilege to be part of Abertay University’s working group and be able to represent students with a disability at the University. Helping to make a positive change which will improve the quality of students experience at University is pretty special. Not all students want to be involved in sport and that’s okay but the important thing is that opportunities and suitable provision are available if they wish to get involved.
SSS are lucky enough to have had you sitting on our Women in Sport Panel during last year’s Festive Gathering at Perth College. Can you tell us about the incredible work that you are currently involved in outside of University and athlete life?
I am delighted to be a member of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Women and Girls in Sport Advisory Board. The board aims to create equal opportunities within Sport and Physical Activity for Women and girls across Scotland. As part of the boards role we set recommendations and advise the Scottish Government and other key stakeholders on how best to make a positive difference in sport for Women and Girls and as a result the group have recently released their ‘Level the Playing Field’ report, please have a read if you have not yet had the opportunity to do so.
If there is anything you could tell a student who is struggling to get engaged in sport at College or University, what would your advice be to them?
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Everyone has been a beginner at some point!
Thanks again to Gemma who took out time from her busy schedule to talk to us. Keep up the good work! We look forward to continuing to provide more opportunities to students with a disability across Scotland. If you wish to hear more about the Partnership contact your SSS Regional Development Coordinator or if you wish to seek advice for a student, contact a SDS member of staff in your area.BACK TO LIST