Everyone knows what it can be like starting a new sport or joining a new club at high school.
Amid the excitement, it can be a nerve-wracking experience, particularly for girls. But it can also serve as a great way to build confidence and make new friends.
In the first of a new Sport First series, My Sporting Life, Rhona, a member of the Young people’s sport panel, tells us about her experiences of being involved in sport at high school.
Today is Active Girls Day, and this is Rhona's story.
My sporting origins
I've been involved in sport for as long as I can remember and have already been involved in so many different sports. I’ve been on school ski trips, I’ve volunteered as a coach in athletics, hockey, and dancing and have also been active participating in track and field, sea kayaking and girls hockey, where I am captain.
Sport plays a hugely significant part in my life and has helped me cross mental and physical health barriers, support academic progress and gain confidence socially. I struggled a lot in Primary school, but when I moved up to high school I came to grips with my dyslexia, mostly aided by my involvement in sport. Sport is what gave me confidence because it was the first thing I discovered I was good at. I feel that it is a part of my role now, in particular as a sports ambassador for my school, to share my experiences and inspire other girls to step out of their comfort zones and get active.
How sport has helped me
Sport gave me a break. I was full of anxiety and worry in every classroom situation. It felt like an almost impossible environment to learn effectively in, let alone be myself and make friends. Luckily, sport was key to changing this aspect of my life.
When I joined an athletics sport club I felt it helped me build a support system. Despite athletics being an individual sport we all train together and our successes as individuals, such as a new personal best, is celebrated by everyone. For me, joining a sport club meant I was being introduced to people who I could instantly relate to, sharing a love for the sport and being dedicated and committed to it together.
What I have overcome
There were challenges to taking up sport. It took time for me to be at ease when I first started the club. I questioned whether I was good enough to be there. Was I fit enough to event finish a session? But I honestly believe that it's not about how good you are but how good you can be and want to be. In training I am taught by my coaches to strive not for perfection, but improvement through progress. It's important to remember everyone has to start somewhere.
Competing at different levels from the UK Youth Development League final to International Youth Games in Sweden and the Scottish Pentathlon Championships, still to this day I feel nervous and scared. But by putting myself on the line I am constantly able to prove to myself that I am able and I strive to be a better, stronger and faster version of myself.
That for me is the beauty of sport: risk a little in the prospect of gaining a lot.
If you are on the verge of trying out or joining a team I urge you to do so. You don’t know until you have tried, you may discover a hidden talent you didn’t even know you had, you may make loads of new friends, you may develop confidence that will get you through school. I recommend a team sport in particular if the social aspect appeals to you, because being on a field with my hockey team and feeling united in all having the same goal is amazing.
Sport brings people together - be a part of it!
What is Active Girls Day?
Active Girls day takes place on Friday 28 October and we are celebrating on social media using #ActiveGirlsDay.
For more information on Active Girls visit our website.