Before she embarks on her next sporting adventures in Chile, South West member and all-round superstar Becca Todd reflects on her journey and how Sported’s support has helped along the way.
“I really want to say a massive thanks to everyone at Sported for all their support and encouragement over the last couple of years. I cannot sing your praises enough and I wish that everyone was lucky enough to have access to all the amazing services, expertise and support that you provide.
The first time I encountered Sported was when I signed up to be a member and explained about my project idea (‘Feel Real‘) to Louise. She filled me with encouragement and set me up with experienced Sported volunteer John, who was totally lovely and just what I needed to chat through my ideas and try to formulate a strategic plan.
Feel Real was a project to use sport and activities to help girls and young women to improve their confidence, self-esteem and body image, as well as making new friendships. I ran the Feel Real projects in a range of schools, a rowing group, as well as with the charity 1625 Independent People, a group for young women recovering from cancer and a hospital for young people with severe mental health issues. All the groups showed huge improvements in their confidence and their attitudes towards physical activity soared, which was amazing to see.
The model of a range of sports, exercise and activities tailored to the girls and women themselves, with lots of opportunities for informal mentoring, building friendships and, importantly, feeling belonging to a group, seemed to work really well and we had fantastic feedback, as well as quantitative and qualitative results on self-esteem surveys.
Sported were so helpful throughout all of the projects we did. Kathryn James, the South West Regional Manager, has been such a massive support to me and the projects ever since she started her role here. On behalf of all the projects in the south west I‘d love to say a HUGE THANK YOU to her, for always being there for me, her endless energy and positivity, and for all the fantastic ideas she’s contributed. She is absolutely brilliant at her role, and always goes above and beyond to help us. Every time I see her I feel so supported and she makes me even more enthusiastic about following my dreams and achieving my goals.
Kathryn set me up with a few other great Sported volunteers, including Jon who provided me with some great personal development coaching sessions online. He was so patient and understanding, and was really able to help me to improve and develop. I’m looking forward to our last session together to plan the next steps. I also had a few Sported ‘Light touch’ volunteer support sessions to help with specific questions or queries. It’s amazing the network of volunteers and experts that are a part of Sported; I felt so fortunate to be involved.
I also had some brilliant help from Sported volunteer Chris Bird, who was able to provide some invaluable advice and support with regard to setting up organisations, managing accounts and finance – something that I knew nothing about, so was so grateful for his expertise.
I then went on to set up a football group for women so that there was a long-term pathway for sports participation for any women to access. The group is called Team Brave and continues to run now with the ethos “confidence through sport”. We are open to everyone so we welcome a mixture of backgrounds and experience, with the aim to come together and have fun playing football in a totally inclusive and supportive environment. Everyone is conscious of the way that sport and friendship can enhance both physical and mental health, and we support each other every week on and off the pitch.
Team Brave represented the UK in the European Global Goals World Cup in Copenhagen in May, which was an incredible opportunity for all the girls involved, some of whom had never been abroad before. Team Brave were representing Global Goal 3 – Good health and well-being – for our focus on mental health. We got to meet and play with teams from all over the world, all of which were showcasing different activism towards global goals and towards international friendships. It was an amazing opportunity and Team Brave won the “social inclusion prize” which was a massive honour. Since then we’ve continued our training sessions and entered a few tournaments to keep the legacy going. We’re now looking into ways and funds to keep the team going forwards and continue to provide an opportunity for all women to come together at a free, friendly football session.
Kathryn also gave me the opportunity to do a course to become a Sported volunteer. I went to the House of Sport in London and met lots of likeminded volunteers and staff as part of Project 51 which was really inspiring.
My next move is an exciting one! We’re moving out to Chile!
My husband is Chilean and we’re aiming to set-up an awesome adventure centre and park out there and pioneer outdoor education and team building activities for young people, focusing on the main goal of Brave: confidence through sport . I’d love to set up another Team Brave football team as a way for all women in our community to access free sport and provide opportunities for more vulnerable women to feel a sense of belonging and support them with both physical and mental health, and twin it with the team in Bristol. I’m also part of an all female cycling team in Chile (Pedalocas) and we’re going to work together to offer opportunities for young people to get into cycling, mountain biking and improve the health and wellbeing across the city. I’ve also been talking to local schools about setting up links with UK schools to arrange sports tours for young people both ways. I’ve got big dreams for Brave and I hope that it can continue to grow and help people out in South America!
I really would not have been able to do this journey without the support of everyone at Sported. Everyone involved is so passionate and kind, and they really helped me so much with the UK projects and now going forward to try to take Chile by storm! Deciding to take on this new adventure was an extremely tough decision, and I cannot thanks Kathryn at Sported enough for her unwavering support and encouragement. Best wishes to everyone, thank you very much and muchas gracias!”