Carluke athlete uses sport for social change

Gary Grieve from Carluke who runs sports-based projects all over the world.
Gary Grieve from Carluke who runs sports-based projects all over the world.

Carluke athlete Gary Grieve got his first taste of international sport when he took part in the International Children’s Games as a schoolboy.

And now he has managed projects in places like Hong Kong and Brazil, and is currently organising experts and funding to return to Kenya on for a scheme to teach coaches.

Gary (26) is enjoying his career. “I used to be an athlete competing at a high level, and now I am getting to travel the world using sport to combat social issues,” he said.

And he is learning so much more than his degree in sports development has taught him, as he finds out about the political issues in the countries where he launches projects to tackle problems like unemployment, racism and poverty.

Gary, who was a Scottish Universities athletics champion, and a semi-finalistist in British Championships, got his first taste of the international sports scene as a schoolboy, in the International Children’s Games in Cleveland Ohio.

Clydesdale sports’ Millar Stoddart on that trip, and after Gary had been on a few of his sport weekends at Inverclyde, he introduced him to woman running international projects, and Gary became a volunteer on one supporting disabled people in sport, held in Budapest in 2011 .

A project against homophobia followed, and that led to an internship and a post in Denmark for a couple of years, delivering programmes across the globe, then managing events in Brazil and Hong Kong.

For his next project – which is in a further education and employment category – which would begin at the end of this month, he has recruited six international mentors, from countries as diverse as France, Malta, Trinidad and Tobago and Finland.

They will spend two weeks training 40 young leaders in Kenya, teaching them how to coach sports, how to recruit and how to get funds.

“After that the young leaders are required to volunteer in one of their local primary schools for 12 weeks, with Skype calls from the mentors to give them ongoing support,” explained Gary.

“And basically, with 40 young people going through that programme, over the two weeks we hope to engage between 3000 and 4000 children, and if we get all 40 of them doing the 12 weeks, we would have just under 15,000 children engaged in physical activity over the three months.”

Gary has to raise funds for his work through European funding or corporate 
sponsorship, and is proud of the fact that his next project should be possible for under £10,000!