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Girls Told to Believe in Themselves

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The overriding message to 200 aspiring young sportswomen attending the GSA Girls Go Gold Conference at Bolton School was “believe and anything is possible”.  A wide selection of women working in sport reiterated this message throughout their presentations, including inspirational keynote addresses from Helen Glover, Olympic and World Champion rower, and Jenny Meadows, 800m European and World medallist and British indoor record holder.  

Helen Glover opened the conference and told girls: “You are not as old as you think you are. You really do need to believe in yourself and that you can do anything. At age 15 so many girls have decided on a particular sport or, worse still, no sport at all. You need to know that you can still change your options and your future. I did not take up rowing until I was 22!”

Jenny Meadows, who gave the final keynote speech, echoed Helen’s thoughts when she said: “We need to build girls’ confidence in their teens so that they do not give up sport.  It has been an amazing event and very insightful to learn what goes on behind the scenes too. All these inspirational woman here today have proven that if you believe in yourself and work hard you can achieve amazing things.”

Throughout the day, former England international netball player Tracey Neville, delivered netball workshops. Tracey’s message was that more girls would engage with sport when it is given more emphasis in schools.

Girls from prestigious independent schools from across the country enjoyed the conference that focussed on the many different career paths that sport can take you down.  Victoria Cotton, BBC Sport Producer, spoke of her rise up through the ranks of the BBC and of all the spectacular sporting events she had been privileged to cover.  She showed the girls how the BBC had built up the excitement and emotion in their coverage of Helen’s victory race at the London 2012 Olympics, creating tension as GB were yet to take home a gold when Helen and her partner set out for the Final.  Likewise, Sonia Oxley of Reuters encouraged girls to think about a career working in sports journalism, whilst Dr Lindsay Hill gave a fascinating glimpse into working with elite athletes as a podiatrist.  Four practical sessions, run by the University of Bolton, also opened girls’ eyes into careers in sports and biomechanics testing, sports intervention, sports rehabilitation and physiotherapy. 

Kathryn Heatherington, Head of Sport at Bolton School Girls’ Division and organiser of the event, said: “It has been a wonderful day! The day has shown girls that they can go all the way and that there is more than one way to go.”  Jenny Eade, PE Teacher at Roedean, agreed: “It has been a really good day. The girls have been totally engaged throughout and have enjoyed learning about the different careers that sport can open up for you and have realised it is not just about becoming an athlete.”

Headmistress of Bolton School Girls' Division, Sue Hincks, said: "We are delighted to have welcomed so many girls from across the UK to take part in this conference.  Helen Glover and Jenny Meadows were uplifting key speakers, who inspired the girls to commit to their chosen sport. All of the sessions opened the girls' minds to the possibilities of a career in sports. We could not have asked for a more thought provoking day." 

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The two keynote speakers, Helen Glover and Jenny Meadows, inspired girls to believe that anything is possible

The two keynote speakers, Helen Glover and Jenny Meadows, inspired girls to believe that anything is possible

Tracey Neville and Manchester High School for Girls pupils

Tracey Neville kept girls on their toes with netball workshops that ran throughout the day

Headmistress, Sue Hincks, thanked all the speakers for their thoughtful and engaging presentations