As part of #ActiveGirls, some of our Young People's Sport Panel members reflected on their early experiences of sport and things they'd like to tell their younger selves.
My earliest memory of sport: This involves one of my longest companions, football. Having just joined my primary school team, my grandparents took me on a trip to our local sports shop for my birthday. They allowed me to choose one item as a present, and that would turn out to be a brand new full Netherlands kit. I don’t remember exactly why I chose that particular strip, probably because it was bright orange. Nevertheless, I wore it with pride, not letting my parents wash it until absolutely necessary. A few years ago, I got to visit The Netherlands with my club to play some matches and watch the Scottish Women’s Team play in the World Cup.
It felt like a full circle moment, and reminded me of the part football has played in making me who I am today.
What I’ve gained from sport: Sport has given me so much, from once in a lifetime opportunities to friends I may never have met (even a few trips to A&E). The skills I have gained have been invaluable and I have been fortunate to travel internationally and represent both my school and club. I have made many fond memories and had the privilege of meeting some inspirational athletes. However, the biggest thing sport has given me is an understanding of who I truly am. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and as a result I have made lifelong friends and learnt some important life lessons. It has taught me to be resilient and patient, and to seize every opportunity possible.
A message to my younger self: I would tell my younger self to not be afraid to push yourself. With sport in particular, I feel hard work evidently does pay off so I would tell myself to stick in and try to enjoy every moment.
My earliest memory of sport: Being signed up for a sports club I really didn’t want to join! I hated the idea of participating, competing and socialising with new teammates but, after many failed attempts at convincing my parents to let me stay home, I finally went along to my first session and absolutely loved it. Teammates quickly became friends and I found myself enjoying every aspect of the sporting community I’d been thrown into.
What I’ve gained from sport: Being part of many sporting communities has allowed me to build friendships, develop life skills and shape me as a person. For me, sport was always about enjoyment first, which meant the work I had to put in to get where I am today never felt like work.
It was just me doing what I love with my teammates.
A message to my younger self: As someone who was reluctant to try new activities, I’d tell myself that it’s okay not to be good at things. You don’t have to be the best person there to gain something from the experience and have fun. If there’s something you want to do then smile and give it a shot, as the saying goes, fake it ‘till you make it.
A message to other girls: There’s so much you can get out of sport and the sporting world. Don’t put pressure on yourself to fit into one role or stereotype if you’re not enjoying it. There’s something out there for everyone whether you have champion aspirations or are just fancying a new hobby, get yourself involved and see where that path takes you.
My earliest memory of sport: I remember begging my mum and dad to find a local basketball club after watching High School Musical about 20 times! I’d always enjoyed sport but I took to basketball and loved it instantly!
What I’ve gained from sport: Discipline and time management, as well as countless amazing friendships, once in a lifetime experiences and knowing what it means to be part of a team. I think the last one has given me the most, as it came with ups and downs but learning to be a part of a team made me who I am and got me to where I am today.
A message to my younger self: Pursue it! Whatever ‘it’ is for you, pursue it and pursue it and don’t stop or ever believe that you can’t make it. Whether ‘it’ is beating a PB, playing as captain, winning “Most Improved” or representing your country, you can get there!
A message to other girls: It can be hard to balance priorities and a busy life when going through high school, and it can be easy to let your sport and activity fall away. Please don’t! It gained me more amazing friends that I ever could have imagined, took me to places I never would have gone and gained me experiences I will never forget and that are STILL giving back to me to this day!
My earliest memory of sport: Absolutely dreading swimming lessons as a child! I remember everyone in my class excitedly queuing up to jump in at the end of the lesson and me having to hold the teacher's hand just to slip in. Given that swimming ended up being my sport, I guess first impressions can be deceiving.
What I’ve gained from sport: Aside from meeting friends for life, sport has given me the opportunity to take on leadership roles.
Coaching gave me the confidence to assert myself in every aspect of life.
A message to my younger self: Winning isn’t everything. In the list of things that you’ll thank sport for, physical success and ‘wins’ are the least important.
My earliest memory of sport: A Jumpin Beans class, ran by coaches who 15 years later I started working alongside. I managed to do (what I thought at the time) was a good forward roll off a foam block. I dragged my mum in after the class and forced her to watch me doing it over and over again, to the point I made myself very dizzy. Who knew at that time that was the start of my love for gymnastics.
What I’ve gained from sport: A career in something I love! I am a gymnastics coach, which I love doing and seeing all my gymnasts progress, but I also have a full time job with Scottish Sport Futures as their ETC Tutor. All my life I wanted to be a part of sport and I feel incredibly lucky to have a job in sport.
It has also created the opportunity for me to gain friendships with people who love sport just as much as me. Whether that is through watching the same sport to being overly competitive in any game, I have connections and friends I would not have had if it wasn't for sport.
A message to my younger self: Do not worry when you have to drop out of gymnastics due to personal circumstances, there are a million and one ways to be involved in sport!!! Who knows, you might even get a job in it and be able to talk about sport every day.
A message to others: If you do not like one sport, that doesn't mean that you don't like all sports. There is something out there for everyone, you just have to find it and who knows, it might be something you thought you would never like.
My earliest memory of sport: On holiday being in the pool having fun with my family.
What I’ve gained from sport: Determination and resilience through challenges in sport as well as so many friends and amazing experiences.
A message to my younger self: That it is okay to take a break when struggling mentally. I used to give myself quite a hard time and didn’t accept that it was okay to not be performing at my best when I was struggling, but looking back actually being at training or racing during that time was a big achievement in itself. As well as knowing when to take breaks and appreciate just as when you are physically ill it is okay to have to take some time off when mentally ill too.
My earliest memory of sport: Probably going to my local tennis club’s summer camp. I remember doing lots of games and fun activities with other young children; I must have been 4 or 5. I definitely felt nervous but I know that overall I loved it and got such a buzz from it all. From that moment I have participated in loads of different sports in my life, mostly netball, tennis and badminton.
It has been a huge part of my life and is a big part of who I am as a person.
What I’ve gained from sport: I have gained SO much from playing sport over the years. It has honestly helped massively in many areas of my life. I gained loads of skills through sports like organisation, time management, self-discipline, social interactivity, team-work and so many more!
A message to my younger self: To stick at sport in any way I could and to give it my all. When I was about 16 I stepped back from sport and focused on my studies and my social life as I felt that I couldn’t keep up with it all. Looking back I wish I had kept it up to a certain extent as it is definitely doable in moderation. A lot of teenage girls end up dropping out of sport due to different reasons and I think it’s a huge mistake.
My earliest memory of sport: An after school badminton club at my primary school. It was good because all my friends went and we were able to have fun whilst learning badminton .
What I’ve gained from sport: Sport has taught me so many things; resilience, leadership, team work, management and responsibility are just some of the skills I have learned, the list is long and constantly growing.
A message to my younger self: Something I would tell younger self, or anyone that is struggling to get involved in sport would be that sport gives you an opportunity to find yourself, make friends for life and provides endless paths for you, if you don’t get involved you’ll never know the potential you can reach!!
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