Jess Barrows Pic 2

Developing leadership skills through sport: Jess Barrows

Former Young People's Sport Panel member, Jess, reflects on her experience as a young leader in sport

sportscotland is hosting ‘Lead to Succeed’ on Saturday 26 November, an event for young people to celebrate 10 years of two of sportscotland’s flagship National Lottery funded programmes for young leaders: the Young Ambassadors (YA) programme and the Young People’s Sport Panel (YPSP).

We caught up with former panel member Jess Barrows to see how her time on the panel has shaped her as an individual and some of the work she is involved in now.  

The YPSP provides a national platform for young people, and panel members influence and shape the future of sport in Scotland and raise the profile of sport.  

Joining the panel  

Jess joined the second Young People’s Sport panel in 2014 at the age of 20. In her second year of university, she was excited when she heard all about it, and knew the panel was something she wanted to get involved in. 

“The interview was so positive, they just let me rattle on about how much I love sport!” Jess said. “I was quite nervous, but I understood that at least if I didn’t get it, there must be some awesome people doing it.” 

Jess was a class representative during her Sport Science degree at university, and she recognised how valuable feedback was to make improvements and to benefit others. She believed that getting involved in the YPSP was another fantastic opportunity for her to get involved in providing input from a young person's perspective. 

Projects and opportunities  

Jess was involved in a range of opportunities throughout her time on the panel. “I was involved in the athletes’ parade in Glasgow after the 2014 Commonwealth Games which was special."

The panel is split up into subgroups, and Jess gained experience at events and with social media campaigns such as one based around sport for peace. She said, “Our role was to promote young people and use our own experiences to help influence the work of sportscotland.” 

Developing skills  

The YPSP is a voluntary experience and requires a big commitment from members.  

“Being a panel member required effective time management. I sometimes had to get time out of university to attend events or residentials, and I learned a lot about balancing my time and commitments.” 

“I was introduced to people who were quite senior in a variety of positions."

"I gained confidence through talking to new people and recognising that they are human beings not just their title – the role allowed me to network so much.” 

“The panel also opened my eyes to the broader inclusion needs of sport. It was interesting hearing the experiences of others on the panel.” 


Panel Highlights 

“The panel was made up of a broad range of ages which brought different perspectives of what was going on for young people and their different lived experiences. We also had someone on the panel who lived in the Highlands, and it was interesting hearing different experiences of sport from across Scotland.” 

Where are you now? 

“I now work at Scottish Student Sport as an Events Coordinator. I look after the competition programme for 35 sports across Scotland, supporting university and college students in getting active. I love the job, there is so much variety in student sport, no two days are the same.” 

Jess also plays recreational netball for a team in Edinburgh. She said:  

“I have been there for six years, and they are so warm and welcoming. It provides a level of competition I can maintain with a fluctuating lifestyle and working hours. It is full of lovely people, allows me to stay fit and active, and play sport that I am not involved in organising – which is also nice!” 

Advice to young leaders 

“Any leadership position in sport is worth taking up. Why not try to take on a role with a different responsibility? Different roles will teach you different skills.”  

“I would also just say take up sport in general. Sport is a fun environment, and you get to work with other people that you don’t get elsewhere. You learn life skills and professional skills that are so transferable.” 

“Sport gives you the opportunity to become more confident, but this comes over time so don’t be afraid to ask for help too.” 

Find out more 

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