A University of Huddersfield undergraduate has unearthed the often-ignored story of disability sport after World War Two to tie in with his own success at coaching the British intellectual disability hockey team.
Lochlann Kaye guided the Special Olympics GB hockey team to a gold medal at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin in the summer of 2023, an achievement made even more special given it was the first time a British hockey team had participated at the games.
The 21-year-old, who hails from Huddersfield, is in the third year of his history degree and his extracurricular interests helped him undertake a project that looks at the development of disability sport in the UK. In particular, Lochlann has used the archives from Remploy, the organisation that helped people with disabilities find work in factories beginning after World War Two.
In 2015 Remploy joined Maximus, one of the biggest providers of employment, health, and disability support programmes in the country .
“As I coach in disability sport, I have had a long interest in learning about how disability sport has developed,” says Lochlann, “I’m keen for people to get more opportunities to play sport than they may normally get.
“For this project, I’ve focussed on local stories of people with Remploy, their sporting achievements, and the competitions that Remploy held.
“It was interesting to see what it was like for people in disability sport a few decades ago, compared to now where disability sport has a greater profile and is continuing to grow. It was surprising, in a nice way, to see that people were competing in big events held by Remploy.
“The last few years has seen much more coverage on disability sport with events like the Paralympics and the Commonwealth Games. It was revealing to discover from my research that there was more access to sport for people with disabilities in the past than I realised, which was a pleasant surprise.
“A lot of things that Remploy did went under the radar, and thanks to Maximus giving me access to the Remploy archives I was able to put a story on Remploy and sport together.”
The success of the GB intellectual disability team in Berlin this year also gave Lochlann further impetus in his research, and it was an experience both he and his players relished.
“There was historical significance,” he adds, “as it was the first time the Olympic torch had been lit on that site since 1936. That had a real impact on me, and so to win on our Special Olympics debut there made it all the more memorable.”