This week Ayrshire College is showcasing students who have had incredible achievements in sport.
Already we’ve presented the story of William Dunnachie, who left it all behind here to coach in California with UK International Soccer for nine months, and Ainsley-Ann Smith, a 17-year-old European medallist in taekwondo.
Today we highlight the achievements of 18-year-old Ross Strachan, from Livingston, who is a talented handball player and HNC Coaching and Developing Sport student. Here is his story.
How did you get started in handball?
I started off playing handball when I was in Primary 5. There was a handball festival tournament at my school which I went along to and really enjoyed. I got a leaflet that day to say there was a club down near my house in Livingston, so I went along to that and I’ve been playing handball ever since. That’s been 9 years.
I had to give up playing football to concentrate on it fully. I thought I’d have more of a chance of a place in the Scotland and GB squads in handball rather than football, so I thought I’d stick at it and see where it takes me. It’s went pretty well so far!
Where has the sport taken you?
I’ve been to Sweden for five years in a row and Denmark twice, along with lots of tournaments in England. I was supposed to go to Hungary but the tournament got cancelled.
I’m a coach for the Scotland U17 squad. I’m also a referee. I’m hoping to get onto the European Handball Federation young referees programme which would take me across the world refereeing professional games and getting paid.
Is handball’s popularity growing?
Interest is picking up, definitely. Interest was really low when I first started and there weren’t many participants. Now more clubs and teams across Scotland are getting involved.
You’re also hoping to get more Ayrshire kids playing handball by helping the College out with this project.
Yeah. The College has established a partnership with the Scottish Handball Association, which is great for me as I’m looking for more experience. I do coach back in Livingston when I’m not through in Kilmarnock, but it’s good to get stuff up and running here.
Once kids start coming along they really enjoy it, it’s really different for them. It’s not like football or rugby, where everyone knows what that is, handball is a sport not a lot of people know or understand.
So it’s good to get kids involved and promote my sport more and get young kids involved in sport.
Finally, how are you finding the College?
I’m loving Ayrshire College. It’s really good. I was hoping to go somewhere closer to where I live however I did not manage to secure a place in Edinburgh College whereas Ayrshire College gave me a place straight away as I had the right grades to meet their entry requirements.
They’ve been really helpful, great with me, and I’m glad I came here.
The main goal at the end of my studies is to become a PE teacher. If not, then a development officer in handball.