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With the easing of restrictions allowing the opening of gyms, MSP Kate Forbes donned gloves and a mask to find out how Lochaber Phoenix Boxing Club members had coped throughout lockdown.
The club had barely moved into its new gym at Corpach when Covid-19 hit and had to close. Links between coaches and members continued through zoom sessions and social media, with videos and advice on staying fit and maintaining the hand-eye and movement co-ordination so vital in the sport.
However, the cancellation of the club’s shows in April and November meant it lost out on showing the incredible talent of their boxers in competition with clubs from across the country and the main fundraising events of the year.
As a registered charity, with an important health and well-being role in age groups from nine years upwards, the club successfully applied for a Scottish Government Covid Resilience Grant which, together with assistance from sponsors Caley Timber and landlords Breckenridge helped the club survive.
As Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Ms Forbes was particularly interested to hear how the club had benefited from the grant in meeting financial commitments at a time when other than weekly fundraising scratch cards, it had no other regular income.
She was impressed by the way the gym had been set up to comply with regulations, maintaining separation and ensuring specific requirements of junior and senior members and individuals were addressed within guidelines.
Head coach Vince Lopez said: ‘We were happy Kate took the time to visit as it allowed us to tell her how vital the grant had been and to thank the Scottish Government for their help.
‘With the relaxing of regulations, we have gradually introduced outdoor coaching, firstly one-to-one, then in small groups. Hopefully the latest measures will put us back on the path to normal operations with larger numbers inside the building which will help generate income.’
Ms Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: ‘Lochaber Phoenix Boxing Club has done a tremendous job in the last few years training, competing and attracting people to a new sport.
‘Like many other places, the club was hit hard by Covid as members were not allowed to train. I am delighted the club accessed Scottish Government support to re-open when it was safe.
‘It has been a long slog for gyms and sports clubs and members are desperate to get back to training.’
Kate wasn’t able to climb into the ring, or spar with any of the members, because of social distancing rules but was able to hear at first hand their excitement and enthusiasm with an open invitation to return for a training session at any time.
Kate Forbes with coach Vince Lopez, left, and members of Lochaber Phoenix Boxing Club. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos
NO F36 KATE FORBES BOXING CLUB 01