So this one is slightly off topic – but hopefully will convey a positive message. I don’t know about you, but I know for me and others who are similarly unathletic, PE/ sports at school was not a joy in the slightest. I have never been a natural athlete, and running for more than a couple of hundred metres was hell on earth. Even at my absolute fittest, running was a struggle.
Where I went to school, it felt like if you weren’t naturally talented enough to make it onto any of the sports teams, you were given far less attention or support in PE lessons by the teachers, and you were most definitely not one of the popular kids. Maybe this is part of the reason some women feel too insecure to carry on participating in team sports after leaving school. For me, I have always enjoyed horse riding, cycling and sometimes even going to the gym. These are very individual activities; you can exercise in a way that is comfortable to you without fear of judgement (even if that fear is just an ingrained insecurity).
Secondary school sports teams, and even some university sports clubs, I have found can be very cliquish – I played dodgeball at uni for a couple of years, but did not feel encouraged to carry on participating for this reason – I just didn’t belong. It was almost like being at school again.
However, towards the start of this year, I was encouraged to join a women’s rugby club. I was encouraged to join by a friend, and I have not looked back since! At first I was a little daunted – I had never played a full contact sport, and literally knew nothing about the sport either. Saying that, every member of the team has been welcoming, encouraging and supportive – and it really didn’t matter that I was an absolute beginner. I have enjoyed every second of it so far, and it has taught me what true team spirit is actually supposed to be like. For the first time, it feels like no-one is judging my natural ability, and no-one cares what I look like in training or matches (we all have to endure the same amount of mud and sweat!). Another plus of exercising as part of a team, is that I feel like I can push myself without it feeling like a chore – it’s been pretty fun!
All I can say is, if I can do it, anyone can – this is why I believe in the “This Girl Can” campaign. I know it takes a lot to ditch your insecurities to do something you enjoy or to exercise more. It shouldn’t matter where your starting point is – the point is doing what makes you happy, and that we should be there to support each other.