Southampton-based golf coach and Special Olympics Great Britain gold medallist Warren Clark has been recognised for overcoming hardships and using sport to provide inspiration for others by being presented with a Beyond Sport Courageous Use of Sport Award, presented by WWE.
Warren (23) lives in North Baddesley and has introduced more than 15,000 disabled and disadvantaged people to golf since starting his Warren Clark Golfing Dreams charity in 2016. He started golf as a 10-year-old and went on to win a Gold Medal for Team Special Olympics GB at the Abu Dhabi 2019 Special Olympics World Games.
“I’m amazed to win such a prestigious award,” said Warren. “I started golf as a 10-year-old to help manage my own special needs. I have ADHD and autism and I experienced a lot of family problems growing up. After trying it one Saturday at Paultons Golf Centre, I couldn’t wait to go back the next week and decided then that it’s what I wanted to do when I got older. I’m 13 years on and can’t see things changing anytime soon.
“My Mum approached the PGA Pro Chris Farr to ask if he would welcome a volunteer and I began collecting golf balls at ever lesson and shadowing him for nine straight years. That’s how I got the inspiration to form the charity.”
Warren is a PGA Level 1 and S.N.A.G (Starting New at Golf) coach, which he coaches at Horsham Golf & Fitness Club and at Horne Park Golf Club. He has great ambitions to introduce many more people to golf and to support disabled and disadvantage people with the development of a new inclusive multisport facility at Horne Park.
“We want to create an inclusive golf, multisport and education facility that will be run by my family and I,” said Warren. “In addition to being based at the golf club, it will have an onsite charity shop where people can learn basic work skills, such as working in a shop, people can experience cooking in the kitchens and generally supporting the charity’s work behind the scenes. This can make the charity sustainable but also give disabled people job opportunities as well.”
Warren started Warren Clark Golfing Dreams in 2016 and it subsequently became a registered charity in 2018. It delivers S.N.A.G Golf (Starting New at Golf) and Tri-Golf sessions to disabled and disadvantaged individuals and groups. In keeping with the work of Special Olympics, it aims to make a difference to lives of people through golf, encouraging them to be socially active and challenge themselves to take part in sport.
Warren has been part of Special Olympics GB for nearly 10 years and he hopes that the development of the inclusive multisport centre can support many athletes in the future.
“I heard about Special Olympics GB through a member of staff at the charity. I then joined Special Olympics Surrey, as there was no golf facility near to where I lived, and I started training.
“I then progressed to competition, firstly at the National Games in Sheffield in 2017, where I finished third and got a bronze medal. I then got picked for the Abu Dhabi 2019 World Games squad, which was amazing. I even got to experience Abu Dhabi a year earlier in its preparation Games event in 2018!”
Last year Warren was one of the first cohort of 25 athletes to go through Special Olympics GB’s Athlete Leadership Programme, which provides a way for athletes to showcase their talents and interests, undergo training and learn new skills.
“Hearing about Special Olympics and hearing stories from people like me has been inspirational and has shown me that we can always come together and play sports, despite everyone’s differences,” Warren told Beyond Sport.
“I would now love it for Special Olympics GB athletes to have the opportunity to use the facility at Horne Park once we have completed the building works.”
Having been named recognised as a Beyond Sport Courageous Use of Sport Award winner, Warren is committed to building on his success through his golf coaching.
“Winning this award means the world to me and the community I serve. I love teaching golf and it makes me happy to give others the great opportunities that I benefit from every day,” he told Beyond Sport.
“I’ve made amazing friendships and I just want to keep doing everything that I can to give more people the same opportunity to experience this sport.”
For the past six years, Beyond Sport and WWE have partnered to celebrate incredible young leaders who are overcoming personal hardships to positively impact their communities through sport. Warren is one of the five 2022 award winners, with the other recipients based in Canada, India, USA and the UK.
If you or anyone you know is a Special Olympics GB athlete and would be interested in taking part in the Athlete Leadership training, sign up here for the next training programme.