Dalston gymnastics coach inspires youngsters to take first place at regional contest
- Credit: Walid Chader
Gymnastics coach Walid Chader once feared his English wasn’t good enough to teach even a handful of kids at Queensbridge sports centre.
But his determination and hard work has just seen eight of his students take first place in a regional contest - and in six years he's scaled his school up to train 900 people across five different centres.
Walid, 28, was a gymnast as a child in Algeria until he had an accident aged 12 and cut his wrist moving house.
He put his dreams of being a gymnast aside until he moved to London to study electronics - and ran into his former coach Adel Berrimi.
Adel and his brother Fateh were gymnastics coaches in Hendon who had 11 boys in Team GB. They asked Walid for help to start up a programme in Hackney.
Walid said: "When I stepped into the gym I was really nervous because my English was so poor and I thought: 'How am I going to coach these English kids when I can barely speak the language?'"
But with the help of Adel and Fateh, Walid took his qualifications to be a gymnastics coach while volunteering at Queensbridge and working at Pret a Manger.
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Since then he's built up a squad that is a top regional competitor with hopes to go national. In June he took 13 kids to compete at the London-wide British Gymnastics competition, eight of whom got first place while nine qualified for finals.
"When you see just a few kids advance from the whole London region and they're your kids you feel really special," said Walid. "That's a really big achievement."
Walid said his biggest challenge is adapting to every child and knowing their strengths and weaknesses. He said: "As a coach, my job is to find a way for him or her to do it. If I don't find a way, it's not on the child, it's on me."
His brother Riad is also a coach at Queensbridge and they're both training Enes, one of his older students, to start his own coaching.
Call the sports centre on 020 7923 7773 for more information.