Making the most of indoor winter sports

Winter kayak pool sessions are about practising skills that can be useful on the open water.

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Oban Healthy Living Town looks at activities that people can get involved in, to encourage everyone to be more responsible for their own long-term health and well-being.

There has been a revival in Oban since the beginning of the year in a certain team activity aimed at women.
Netball might not be associated with the area but at one time it was the sport for young and teenage girls.

Oban Breakers has been running under the radar at Park Primary School on a Monday evening for the last few years thanks to Chrissie-Leigh Felgate, but a move to Atlantis Leisure centre in January and a connection with the competitive Fort William Falcons team has seen an increase in interest among women aged 19-50+.

Christina Wood of North Connel, who runs the Oban sessions with Chrissie-Leigh and plays for the Falcons, has been playing netball since primary five.
She explained: ‘It is about fun, friendship and fitness. It is accessible to anyone. You can go along and make it what you want; if you don’t want to run much, you pick shooter or keeper as you are confined to one third of the court. We have half an hour of passing work and footwork drills and then we put the bibs on and get on court.

‘We have lot of mums with young children, who are getting out and doing something for themselves. It’s only one hour and it is literally like going to a gym class but it goes quicker, it’s more fun and it’s sociable. It’s good for mental health because it is a team.’

Hazel-Jane Hughes from Oban had seen it publicised on social media but had never played before. She said: ‘I have a six-month-old baby and I wanted to get back into some sort of fitness. It looked like a nice team, nice girls. It is just nice to get away for a wee hour and not think about anything and have a wee bit of enjoyment for myself.’

Student Oriarna Willets had also never played netball but wanted to take part in a team sport that was not too serious and, judging by the laughter on a Monday night in the hall, netball fits the bill. She said: ‘It is my second time but it’s really fun and I’m definitely going to come back. I like the fact it is only women. It is very friendly and good company.’

Another active team ball game for those aged 15-60, which also uses Atlantis, is volleyball. Lorn Volleyball Club has been running since 2010 and has boasted membership from 15 different nationalities.

Peter McCracken, who helps with coaching, said: ‘It is not necessarily for someone who has not got a good level of fitness but perhaps someone who has played before and wants to get back into it.’

Anyone who has played before is welcome to turn up on a Thursday evening at 6pm, when they will receive a bit of one-to-one coaching before joining the others across the net for an evening of active fun.

Although there is not a ball in sight, another club which over-winters in Atlantis is Oban Canoe Club, with members brushing up on their skills in the pool on Tuesday and Wednesday, 8.45pm-9.45pm.

It is an opportunity for new kayakers to gain general skills – basic strokes, how to handle a spray deck and paddle and overcome the ‘death wobble’ before going on the sea.

Club chairman Dave Bleazard said: ‘From April onwards we try to get out one night a week and sometimes at the weekends for a longer trip. Those are club trips and most of them are led so you have someone with the necessary qualifications taking out a group of people.

‘You can launch in Ganavan and in five minutes be around the back of Kerrera looking at seals and puffins and away from everybody else – and it’s just lovely.

Charlotte Findlay was persuaded to ditch buying a stand-up paddle board in favour of a kayak two years ago and has not looked back.
‘It’s seeing different bits of Oban or from different angles and different islands and when you go out on paddles with the club it’s really good because you learn loads from other people and then come into the pool sessions where you can practise all the skills, like the rolling.’

  • Oban Healthy Living Town: Join at www.facebook.com/groups/healthyoban
  • Oban Netball Club: www.facebook.com/westcoastnetballscot
  • Lorn Volleyball Club: visit the club’s Facebook page.
  • Oban Canoe Club: www.obancanoeclub.org.uk, on the club’s Facebook page or from Dave Bleazard at Outside Edge, Oban, on 01631 566617.