Because of my sporting background, I approached my interview at Living Sport with some trepidation until they told me I didn’t need to be a sporty person, or even like sport, they were just looking for the best person for that role. This was a welcome relief as I’ve always preferred to watch sport rather than taking part, despite enjoying and winning medals in dance when I was younger. There were a number of reasons why I preferred to watch, mainly due to being out of shape or having no-one to enjoy the sport with.
As soon as I joined the Living Sport team, some of the girls invited me to join their summer fitness sessions which involved trying a different sport each week. Still being the ‘newbie’ and feeling unfit, this terrified me but I went along regardless. We started off with badminton, which after playing a little bit at university I knew what to expect. As soon as I got there I was introduced to everyone and I was made to feel really welcome, which gave me a boost in confidence and I felt even if I was rubbish it didn’t matter, I was making the effort.
Having positive encouragement from the people around me gave me more confidence to go the following weeks, where I also tried netball, squash and trampolining. My favourite sport was definitely trampolining as I have been a fan since school. I don’t know whether it’s the sense of freedom you have when you’re in the air or the fact you have a soft landing if it goes wrong (bearing in mind you need to stay on the trampoline), but I found it easier to learn new skills. Soon the summer fitness sessions came to an end and the girls went back to playing hockey. Seeing as I had tried all the other sports it felt rude not to give hockey a go. It was RUSH Hockey, which made it a little easier as the ball is light and bigger, and it also helped that a few other beginners also attended the sessions. After learning the basics we were able to play a few games each week. I felt my hand-eye coordination was improving slightly, helping me in other sports and to be honest I was sad to see it end.
After trying all these sports the real challenge came into play when we needed a team to compete in the Workplace Challenge netball tournament, and with 7 other companies participating, the bar was raised. My last experience of a netball tournament was Inter-form at school, which was a completely different situation. After winning the tournament I felt for the first time I had accomplished something but, more importantly, I felt part of a team and it was an enjoyable experience despite the fact I hadn’t played netball since school and being only 5ft tall!
Bowls was next on the list, but to me bowls did appear to be a relaxed sport that was aimed at the older generation. I only got this impression because my grandpa used to play, and from what I had seen on TV, but after arriving a Peterborough Bowls Club the rules were explained to me and it turned out to be a lot trickier than I first thought. Remembering that the wood had a bias so you needed to bowl away from the jack became my worst enemy; this definitely showed during my performance but still resulted in coming 2nd out of the four teams, mainly due to my other team mates. The following tournaments in the Workplace Challenge calendar were rounders and RUSH Hockey. I found these sports a lot more enjoyable because they required a bigger team and, to me, a lot of pressure had been lifted. After trying all the previous sports the process of the Workplace Challenge became second nature and became more enjoyable each time we played.
During these Workplace Challenges Living Sport as a team put aside one lunch hour a week where we were able to engage in mini versions of physical activity. This was essentially ‘just for fun’ and became a great excuse to get active with circuit training or attending the gym. As the popularity increased and the weather got better taking the activity outside sounded like a great idea! We changed circuits into little sporting games from football to cricket and even a game of pitch and putt. Not only did this bring the team closer together it also helped build my confidence and improve my skills.
Workplace Challenge competitions have given me the opportunity to try and put the skills I have learnt over the summer into practise and compete in real competitions. I now see a change in myself and will give any sport a chance. It just goes to show that even if you are not a sporty person, if you try it just the once you might actually enjoy it!
Written by Jenni Misseldine, Living Sport Administrator