Were you excited by sport as a child or teenager? Or did you, like me, look forward to PE like you might look forward to a dentist appointment with a mouth full of cavities? I’m sure that Mr Hallsworth meant well… but his ill-fitting jogging bottoms and “come on boys” attitude didn’t really give me much to identify with – far less aspire to.
What difference might it have made to have an inspiring woman in sport as my PE Teacher? Or yours? Enter Ali Hucker, College Sport Maker at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS College). She is the role model we all needed during those awkward teenage years. She is the role model to thousands of teenagers at SGS College right now. And she can be your role model too! Read on and get inspired.
(And please let me add a big thank you to Ali and to all of the inspirational go-getting PE teachers, College Sport Makers, and coaches out there today.)
Q. What was your first experience of sport? How did that develop to where you are now?
My first Experience of Sport was through my PE lessons at primary school. I believe that school PE has a big part to play in how we engage young people in sport, and it’s ultimately those early PE experiences that will shape how we feel about physical activity.
I was very fortunate to attend a primary school where we had a teacher who specialised in sport only. Because of her I started playing netball in year 3. We were also encouraged to participate in other sports like gymnastics, hockey, football and athletics.
My love for Netball continued into my secondary school, where I attend half-term netball camps at TeamBath and was selected for various county squads and played for the school team. For further education, I attended Filton College (now SGS College) where I was able to combine my A-level studies with a 16 hour a week competitive Netball programme. It was through my time at college that I gained coaching qualifications in Netball. After completing my degree course in Sport Development, I ended up becoming Head Coach of the Netball Academy programme at SGS and then in to my current role as College Sport Maker.
I was very fortunate to have supportive parents too, who acted as my taxi service taking me to matches and training sessions and were my biggest fans. They have always encouraged to take part in sport, they still come to watch me play Netball and even support me whilst I’m coaching my junior netball teams.
Q. Who were your sporting role models as a child? How about now?
Tamsin Greenway, Surrey Storm Netball Player/Coach is my sporting role model. I was fortunate enough to be coached by Tamsin as a player during my time at Filton College. I learnt a great deal from her not only as a player but as a coach too. I will never be anywhere near as good as she is a player but I still find myself implementing some of her coaching ideas during my sessions now.
Q. Was there ever a time when you almost gave up and, if so, what made you keep going?
There were times where I wasn’t selected for teams or had a long term injury, which did put me off playing but then I’ve always come back to Netball after a break – I enjoy playing too much. It’s a bit different for me though as being a Netball player isn’t my career, so I play and coach purely for the love of the sport.
Q. How would you motivate someone to get active and engaged in sport?
Through my College Sport Maker role I am always trying to motivate learners to participate in sport and physical activity. I try to ensure the activity is actually what the learners want to take part in, and try and make it as social as possible. For most 16+ participants their relationship with sport can vary from those that want to have fun and enjoy it to those that use sport for a specific purpose e.g. losing weight, being healthy and meeting new people. It’s all about offering participants activities that they want to do and possible incentives to keep them engaged.