At Winning Scotland Foundation there is a strong sense of a unified approach towards helping young people grow whether that be with sport, through sport or with the help of sport.
Having grown up in Australia, the difficulty for me has been seeing the difference in sporting opportunities for young people here in Scotland, compared to back home. That’s been the hardest to grasp. This could be due to a cultural differences or the weather or indeed both. In Brisbane, where I was brought up, you look out the window and see a dozen netball courts, or fields and parks at the majority of suburban street corners. I can’t remember an afternoon after school that we weren’t playing sport or playing out in the backyard.
Of the sporting opportunities that are out there, I believe WSF is unique in that it creates and improves the quality of opportunity at a group and individual level, for example creating good learning environments and coaches, and developing growth mindsets. Champions in Scotland, in particular, sets out to improve a young person’s outlook, to look at their current behaviour, to think about their passion, what they want to achieve, and ultimately can they achieve it? It gives them the nudge, the confidence, the belief in their ability and skill set to not only seize an opportunity but to create one.
How I would describe the Champions in Scotland Programme is that it inspires. It’s all about that lasting impression that the champion leaves, how the visit makes that young person feel. Because it’s something you never forget.
I still remember when I was in primary school just prior to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and the torch was coming through our school. The athlete came and spoke to us, he had a medal around his neck that he had won at the previous games and I don’t even remember what he said, who he was, his sport or what medal he’d won but I remember exactly how I felt. I was inspired, I’d taken away how hard he had to work, how amazing it was to achieve his goal and he almost instilled in me his love for the challenge to actually enjoy the hard work; that it’s all about the journey. And then I got to hold the torch, it was the best thing ever!
I will never forget how I felt, and even now athlete visits that we do, any time we come into contact with a young person I feel like it’s our responsibility to do what that athlete did for me. And that is exactly what Champions in Scotland is, it gives athletes that chance to fulfil their role, gives them the opportunity to not only inspire young people but to reflect on what they have accomplished because you never do that, it’s always what’s the next goal, what can I do better. Champions in Scotland inspires and this is my reflection as an athlete, programme manager and memory as an 11 year old girl who got to hold the Olympic Torch.