Olympic Judoka Sarah Clarke blogs about the BP Young Leaders Programme 2014

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In November 2013, I was lucky enough to be asked along as a Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust athlete mentor with the BP Young Leaders Programme 2014, with Action For Children, for a series of sessions with young people as they undertake their Sports Leaders UK qualification.

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Becoming a Sports Leader and volunteering in the community increases responsibility awareness, develops confidence and improves self-esteem. It develops skills in many areas. Sports Leaders UK was set up to support people across the UK who would like to give back to their local community. It now assists over 140,000 young people a year to give them the skills, advice and confidence to provide sporting opportunities to their neighbourhood. The aim is to: “Inspire people and communities through leadership qualifications in sport.”

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I met with all of the guys over five separate Tuesday evenings, making my way from Edinburgh to Glasgow with Sports Leader Laurene Edgar and on arrival, meeting Jackie, from Action For Children. I felt part of the group straight away. I became part of a small team, was involved in many team building exercises, group work, circuit training and design, session planning, games, as well as offering help or advice on research or presentation skills. It was great to be involved and to see the young people developing over the weeks, becoming more confident in delivering in front of a group and gaining confidence in their own skills and abilities.

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Most sessions began with a group chat, where each one of us updated the rest of the group on their week, what had been happening, good bits, bad bits and things we could improve on or that we would do different. Everyone had different things going on in their life, with some young people moving towards prelims at school (as well as working part-time), others are working (part or full-time) and one or two have become involved in apprenticeships. We then did a last session recap, discussed the plan for the day’s session and then moved on to some warm up/team building exercises before the main session. In one of the sessions, I was asked to deliver some warm up activities in pairs (changing partner every time) and we ran through a series of games, knee touching, ‘ponytail tig’, etc all involving movement and agility. Everyone became competitive and put in lots of effort!

Each week was different and threw up various challenges for each individual. In my final week, news via email had come through for most of the Young Leaders of their Glasgow 2014 roles. There was lots of excited people! Although it was my last week with the group, they are lucky enough to have around five weeks left of their course and also, Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust Athlete Mentors Theo Spalding-McIntosh and Kelly Edwards will each be visiting the group for one session.

I had a great time, learned lots and got to meet some very positive young people. However, their journey as Young Leaders doesn’t stop after completing their Sports Leaders UK qualification. It continues to move forward. I am looking forward to meeting up and seeing everyone again soon at various events. Keep up the good work!


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