Cadyn Thomson was born in 2003 with Cerebral Palsy (CP). In Cadyn’s case it affects both legs. He’s never let his disability hold him back. Sport has been a constant theme throughout his life. His earliest sporting memory is of going swimming with his gran to the Perth Dolphins Swimming Club when he was 5. He loved the water, and for 4 years, swimming was unquestionably his favourite sport.
That changed when, aged nine, he attended a monthly family sports day at St Johns’ campus. The family sports day was organised by Perth & Kinross Disability Sport (PKDS). It was an opportunity for people in Perth & Kinross to go along and try a range of disability sports. In Cadyn’s case the sport he tried and was instantly hooked by was table tennis. It became an instant passion. And, thanks to his own determination and the coaching of Pat Duffy and Ralph Laahs, he was able to develop to a very good standard.
Football though was always the sport he was most passionate about. Being a Perth lad, he is of course a loyal Saints fan. And while Perth proudly has a Premier League club, unfortunately, it didn’t have a CP football team. Undeterred and thanks to the support of his family, Cadyn joined Syngenta FC who are based near Grangemouth. While the round-trip of around an hour and a half was far from ideal, it was worth it. He thrived and training with his friends became the highlight of his week.
Sadly, that wasn’t to last.
If you know anything about CP, you’ll know that young people with the condition regularly have treatments to help stretch muscles so that they can grow with the bones. In some cases, including Cadyn’s, operations are required. Cadyn has had two major operations to lengthen his hamstrings and reposition his feet. Following one of those operations in 2013 Cadyn lost some mobility and never quite got back into football.
At the age of 9 he was effectively forced to give up his favourite sport.
While this made him sad and dented his confidence for a short period of time, Cadyn's remarkable strength of character shone through. He went along to his first Scottish Disability Sports camp. There he was introduced to sailing, archery and boccia.
"Going along to the Scottish Disability Sports camp helped make me become more independent as I was away from my family and home for the first time." Cadyn Thomson
Cadyn’s first time at the camp was so positive and he’s returned every year since.
In 2019 Cadyn experienced wheelchair basketball for the first time after PKDS made him aware of a Basketball Scotland taster session. He was a natural and before long the sport was his new passion. It wasn’t his first ever experience of shooting hoops though. That came in 2015 when he had the trip of a lifetime to Disneyland Florida thanks to the charity Dream Flight. That first basketball memory has really stuck with him.
"I made my first basket and that gave me such a sense of joy. That’s when I started following basketball."
He now plays with Perth Eagles and Dundee Dragons Wheelchair Sports club. His greatest basketball achievement came in late 2019 while playing for the Dundee Dragons. Representing NBA team Utah Jazz, he won gold with his Dragons team at the Jr NBA event in Perth. An incredible experience and one that reinforced his love of the game. Cadyn has also started his journey to becoming a coach with the Eagles.
"I really enjoy this because I get to meet new people while gaining skills in coaching and other wheelchair sports." Cadyn Thomson
And, speaking of wheelchair sports, he’s got his eyes firmly set on a new one. It’s fair to say that rugby league wasn’t a sport that held much appeal to Cadyn, but the wheelchair variant absolutely does. It’s fast, frenetic and a lot of fun. The skills he’s learned in wheelchair basketball transfer nicely to Rugby League. The chairs are different but he’s confident he can make the adaptation.
There’s a real universal truth in Cadyn’s experience. So many people with disabilities dismiss certain sports because they don’t think they’ll enjoy them. It’s only when they get a real, hands-on opportunity to try it for themselves. Much like Cadyn, they are pleasantly surprised by how much joy they get from a new sport.
"Sport has been a significant part of my life, having been an attendee at the Scottish Disability Sports camp for the last seven years. That introduced me to things like sailing, archery and boccia." Cadyn Thomson
Cadyn is one of the most inspirational young people we’ve met at PKDS. Although he’d hate to admit it, he makes a big impression on everyone he meets. He’s also ambitious and is looking to complete industry recognised coaching qualifications in basketball, tennis and rugby. In addition to that, he’s keen to secure a place on the Scottish Disability Sport Young Persons’ Sports Panel.
"I would love to be on the sports panel to help bring disability sports into the more rural areas of Scotland. It’s vitally important we make sport more accessible for people who don't have the use of transport." Cadyn Thomson
We know that Cadyn will go on to achieve great things in sport and beyond. We’ll be following his journey closely and continuing to offer our support every step of the way.
"I've known Cadyn for a number of years now. Cadyn’s journey in sport is quite simply inspirational! Although he's experienced setbacks over the years, he's shown determination and resilience to bounce back. His cheeky personality and supportive approach make him very popular with his teammates and coaches. Everyone looks up to Cadyn. He's a positive role model who shares his knowledge and experience to help others. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for him as we support his development in coaching." Graeme Doig, Perth & Kinross Disability Sport.
"I feel like if I can give people the passion I have for sport I can help support a new generation of athletes. Ultimately, my dream would be to be a professional coach. As a coach, if I can make one person enjoy one thing then it’s a successful day. My message to anyone who isn’t sure, is to come down, give it a try, because you never know what you’ll enjoy." Cadyn Thomson