By Sported | 15th January 2021
By Sported | 15th January 2021
As a 16-year-old, Sophie has packed more into her life than most people do in a lifetime. She is passionate about sport and the benefits it can bring people physically and mentally. Find out more about why she’s volunteering with Sported, why she thinks everyone should get involved with their local community and how she hopes to continue inspiring young girls and women to get into sport.
It would be fair to say that Sophie’s love of sport comes from her family. Both her mum and dad are really active and growing up with this sporty influence inspired Sophie to get into sport as well. She loves football (she started playing when she was 6 years old) and recently set herself a challenge to cycle 10kms a day for 100 days with her dad, raising money for Sported. With no end in sight to the current lockdown, it gives her a chance to get out, breathe some fresh air and clear her mind.
“Sport is so important. It has so many physical and mental benefits. I really enjoy it and it helped me so much in the first lockdown – it gave me a reason to get out of bed, a sense of purpose. When I play football, I can see my friends, be part of a team and get used to working with other people. If ever I’m facing some challenges, I just get outside and see a new perspective.”
16-year-old Sophie feels strongly that everyone should be able to play any sport they want. Two years ago, she was told that girls weren’t allowed to play football at her school. She didn’t think this was fair and so decided to challenge it. After surveying her classmates and giving the results to her Headteacher, girls at her school can now play football as well as lots of other sports they couldn’t previously.
Sophie hasn’t stopped there. She also does a lot of volunteering, including sports coaching and going into schools to talk to young people about her experience and the importance of getting into sports.
“I think everyone should volunteer if they can. Local sports clubs simply wouldn’t exist without them. But it can also really help you personally. It can make you feel like you belong somewhere. For me, volunteering has really helped bring on my leadership skills and make me much more confident in myself.”
She discovered Sported three years ago, through a programme called Project 51 which aimed to help girls in the most socially deprived areas of the UK fulfil their potential and use sport to overcome the impact of negative gender stereotypes. She was selected as one of the project’s Young Influencers. Sophie was eager to get involved to help support this project. She not only encouraged other young girls to join her local school team and sports club but actively worked evenings and weekends to promote the benefits of enhancing sports activities to girls and challenging gender stereotyping amongst her peers, tutors and group leaders.
“I’ve had so many amazing opportunities thanks to Sported. I’ve spoken at different conferences and at Sported’s 10-year anniversary event and met so many interesting people. This has really helped me gain a lot of confidence, especially to do things that I wouldn’t have done before – such as going for Head Girl at my school. But being part of those events means I can share my story, hopefully inspiring people to take part in sport and challenge stereotypes about girls in sport.
“One of the best events I ever attended was when I spoke at Scottish Parliament. It’s a pretty cool place to say I’ve given a talk at! I got to talk to some pretty cool people, all of whom were quite important. Last year I also won the Vanessa Brown Volunteer award in the young person category, for all the work I’ve done with Sported. That was a pretty special moment. The trophy is in my room and I spent my gift card towards getting a new bike!”
“Sported does such an amazing job helping people and helping community sports clubs survive. They help make local groups better places to be for young people.”
For someone who is just 16, Sophie has certainly had a busy few years. For now, she’s focusing on online learning during the current lockdown and finishing her cycling challenge. Just a few hundred kilometres to go!