I have always struggled with fitting in, and I live on a farm in the middle of nowhere so have to rely on my parents to take me to see my friends. However, my parents have always been very encouraging when it came to participating in sport and this has allowed me to build friendships and develop my communication skills.
Sport allowed me to meet new people from different primary schools, which made secondary school less daunting.
I think the main attribute I was able to develop mentally is resilience. I haven't been a confident person and I'm still not, but the level of resilience I have gained through sport has had a big impact on my life. There was a point in my life in which I was bullied by my teammates - nobody stood up against them and eventually it got to the point one training session where I felt I couldn't stand it anymore and had to leave.
At first I was adamant I wasn't going back, but I began to miss sport and the happiness I had felt after a hard training session was completed. So I decided to go back and if things got bad I powered through because I really wanted to improve. I realised I had an unearthed desire to do well, and I was going to achieve every one of my personal goals and no one was going to stop me.
I have struggled with my mental health since I started high school and this caused me to stop playing football which was my favourite sport, my passion. I didn't know what to do to keep myself busy and to try and make myself feel a bit better. I decided I wanted to try coaching football instead so I got in contact with my primary school football coach, Gilbert.
I went along and just assisted him with his sessions but just weeks after, I was leading sessions. I realised it was an escapism and it was a healthy escapism. I loved coaching children the basic skills of football and I felt like I was making a difference in the community.
If I was having a bad week I always knew that I'd be coaching at the weekend, and that would cheer me up.
It was an amazing feeling and I felt like I was actually good at something.
I lost my best friend to suicide when I was 15 and this was something that really impacted my mental health. I struggled from flashbacks and also had feelings of anger, guilt and frustration that are common after losing someone to suicide. I felt like I wanted to give up everything but after a week of not coaching I realised I needed to get back to it.
Coaching definitely helped with my mental health as it felt rewarding to help people learn about the sport I love.
I was able to pass on the skills and knowledge I had gained from my own coach onto the next generation of children and I am proud of myself for doing it. I saw girls and boys improve weekly and every week they were enjoying themselves. It feels great to know you are helping someone else, so coaching many children was a rewarding and life changing experience.
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