Members of the Young People's Sport Panel discuss their experience of the relationship between sport and education, and how their involvement in sport has had a positive impact on their pathway through education.
Sport has always been a huge part of my life; from participating at a young age, to coaching it now. I have always enjoyed every aspect of it and it’s something that I feel very passionate about.
Throughout school I was not very academic and found learning in a classroom boring. I love being active and learn better that way. So I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do after I left school.
My PE teacher suggested I apply for a modern apprenticeship at a local community organisation, Active Stirling, and it was the best thing I could’ve done. I was a multi-sports modern apprentice focusing mainly on early years. I learned lots more about sport and some sports that I’d never even heard of before I started.
I learned a lot about coaching a wide range of age groups and abilities. Mainly I learned more about myself.
Every day I was meeting new people who shared my passion for sport and it encouraged me to continue my career path in sports.
From the modern apprenticeship, I went on to study sports coaching at Forth Valley College, where I am currently in the second year of my HND. This is something I never thought I would do but due to my love for sport, I am enjoying it and can’t wait to see where it will take me.
My passion for sports has opened up so many opportunities, including spending the summer coaching “soccer” in California and going into higher education, which is somewhere that I could never see myself. Through this I hope to continue my career path in sport and continue doing something I love and which is a big part of my life.
In my experience, I have often been told that sport is a distraction from education. I have always seen people put sport below education. One of my personal aims while on the Young People’s Sport Panel will be to show people that sport and education should be given equal amounts of importance, as they are both important in life.
Education will provide you with qualifications to progress into a career, while sports will develop you as an individual.
Growing up I have learned for myself that actually sports and education are not antagonists but go hand in hand. Sport has taught me confidence, communication skills, dedication and hard work. I have learned confidence by not being afraid to perform in front of people and by not being afraid when I fail. The greatest falls have the biggest comebacks.
I developed communication skills as I had to communicate with my teammates to successfully score a point and call for the ball. I learned the importance of dedication as I had to get up every morning at six to train, and hard work as at times I wanted to give up, but I always kept going as I saw my goal and was so committed to achieving it.
All of this has really helped me in school and at work. I am confident when I speak in class, I am dedicated to becoming a dentist and I work hard in my studies every night to achieve my dream career path.
Starting university can be a daunting experience for anyone. A new place, new people, a whole new adventure.
However, sport has a unique ability to make the whole experience much easier, whether it’s making friends through supporting the same team or joining a new sports club within the university.
For me, it was joining the rugby team. Rugby has always been a sport I have enjoyed, and the team spirit and potential team bond meant it was a perfect sport to join in order to meet new people. Going along to the first training session is always nerve-racking, but once the ball comes out and you begin to speak the universal language of rugby, things start to fall in to place.
Bonds are very quickly formed and by the end of the first session it’s like you’ve known people for years. But away from the pitch, joining a rugby team also comes with benefits like attending social events and recognising people around campus. After two weeks at uni, sport has definitely made a difference and helped me to create many friendships.
From when I was in high school, choosing to take PE as a subject choice was always misconstrued as a “skive” or an “easy option”. It was never considered that those individuals could have a genuine passion for sport, took it seriously or wished to pursue a career within the industry.
Even the attitudes of some teachers at school, who joked “If you can’t teach, teach PE” and although it was always laughed about, it was clear there was some seriousness behind it. In my experience, studying sport was and still is often seen as inferior to other subjects such as science.
As the only one of my peer group wishing to take the sporting career path - with several applying for the same courses and universities together - I felt stupid. Even now having achieved all As for my graded units in both HNC and HND Coaching and Developing Sport, and gaining entry to 3rd year sports development at university, I still sometimes feel stupid and still get comments such as “you just learn how to kick a ball”.
But it's not learning to kick a ball. It is lesson plan upon lesson plan, research investigations, sports psychology, theorists and their sports theories ... I could go on forever. Like any other subject, it is hard work, stressful, someone’s passion and potentially a career path which should be taken seriously, celebrated and encouraged by everyone, not just sport students and sport lecturers.
As a member of the panel, I’m keen to change attitudes towards sport as an academic subject, and continue to promote the positive role that sport can play in relation to education.