Former Young Ambassador Erin Gillen

Playing our part

Being a Young Ambassador taught Erin Gillen to lead by example

Teenager Erin Gillen proved she was a real class act – when she became a sportscotland Young Ambassador at school.

The 18-year-old, now a member of the Young People’s Sports Panel, believes taking on the role at Turnbull High School in Bishopbriggs gave her the confidence to commit to more sport leadership positions.

Erin, who was 15 when she became a YA, said: “I had no experience in playing a leadership role so it was a bit daunting. Luckily, my Active Schools coordinator motivated and reassured me and helped keep me on the right track.

“Once I started I took to it like a duck to water and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. It was life-changing. Before I joined, I was nervous to stand up in front of people and talk and I would never go out of my way to organise an event.

“But once I got involved in YAs, that really changed. I had to stand up in front of hundreds of kids and people older than me, and give different conferences, talk about my own experiences and motivate them. It really gave me confidence.”

Gaining confidence

While she was at school, Erin became part of the YA conference delivery team, and said: “It was really inspirational. You get to meet so many different young people, different mentors and different inspiring athletes.

“The whole experience gave me even more confidence to go out and do different things, even in my school and my local community. It gave me the confidence to take up leadership roles within my school.”

Erin, who now coaches Under 9s at Springburn Harriers Athletics Club, credits her leadership experience as a YA for her decision to become involved.

She said: “If it wasn’t for the Young Ambassadors programme I wouldn’t have been introduced to my club and I wouldn’t have started on my coaching pathways.

"The best thing is watching the kids progress. It’s really good to see them gaining confidence week by week and learning new skills.”

It also made her apply to join the Young People’s Sport Panel. She added: “I thought it sounded like the next step in my journey because I’d been a Young Ambassador, I’d been a leader in school, and now I wanted to take things to a national level. I never thought I’d get on it, so it was quite a surprise when I did.”

Erin, also working as a coach with East Dunbartonshire Leisure & Culture, loves helping others and being a role model. She said: “Having a role model is fundamental in every aspect of sport. If you want to make the best of your ability, someone like a coach, a coordinator or a young leader can help you to have someone look up to and follow in their footsteps.

“Just believe in yourself. My Active Schools coordinators and coaches always encouraged me to keep going and told me that I could do anything I wanted if I just put my mind to it. And they were right!”

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