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Thursday, 18 September 2014
This year’s GSA Girls Go Gold Conference was hosted in the north by Bolton School Girls’ Division. The School welcomed a variety of expert speakers from the world of sport: athletes, journalists, and specialists in sports injury prevention and rehabilitation. Bolton School welcomed two hundred girls aged 14-17 who had travelled from across the UK for the conference, which was mirrored in the south at St Catherine’s Bramley.
Ellie Broome is an aspiring golfer and Year 11 pupil at Bolton School Girls’ Division who attended the Girls Go Gold Conference 2014. She kept a diary throughout the day about her experience and the different sessions she attended.
Before the Conference
Before the Girls Go Gold Conference, I was hoping to learn about a wide variety of sporting opportunities and where sport could take me! I knew this would be a great opportunity to find out more about the different pathways into sport and around sport, so I was looking forward to the whole day.
Opening Keynote Speech: Helen Glover
Helen’s speech was really interesting. She talked about aiming high and seizing your opportunities.
One main theme which she kept referring to in her speech was ‘The Decision’ – the fact that there is a reason behind why you are where you are. This was the fact to remember at tough times: why you made the decision to commit to the sport you are doing! She said you also have to remember that you’re doing this because you love it: you are the little girl who fell in love with sport, and that's why you are where you are. You are competing because you love it and even when it's hard you are there because you enjoy it.
I found this very inspiring because it's true – if you didn't enjoy it you wouldn't do it, so when you do get up early on the cold and wet mornings it's because you enjoy what you are doing.
Helen also talked about how she started out as a cross-country runner and enjoyed sports, but only later became a rower. She advised everyone to stay open to new and different opportunities, as we may not have found the sport that’s right for us yet. This was really inspiring to hear.
Sports Rehabilitation at Bolton University
It was good to find out actually how many different jobs there are and paths that you can take in sport rehabilitation – I had no idea!
During this session we leaned how to strap up an ankle. It was fascinating to learn about where tape needs to be placed to create the best support for the joints and muscles. After the demonstration, we had a go ourselves with a partner. What was really interesting was the anatomy table we were shown. Instead of dissecting a person, it was electronic, so if a mistake was made it could be undone – whereas you can't do that with an actual person!
Sports Science at Bolton University
This was a good session, as you could find out your own different physical strengths – such as how strong you are with a grip strength test, how fast your feet move with an agility run, and how flexible you are with a sit and reach test.
I had lots of fun taking part in the different challenges and discovering my strengths and weaknesses. It was brilliant to see and use all the specialist equipment at the University as well, including electronic timing gates for the agility run, a pressure pad to measure jump height, and of course the Wattbike!
Dr Lindsay Hill’s activity was interesting as it explained in detail how you can damage your feet if you don't run in the proper way. Dr Hill also talked about what podiatrists can do to support athletes and correct any issues they have.
I volunteered to take part in an example test. I stood on a pressure board, and this showed a picture on the computer of the points I was using in my foot. I also walked across the pressure board to show my gait and the different parts of my feet that were being used. We could then look at the pictures to see if I was walking or running properly.
Life as a Sports Journalist
The talk by Sonia Oxley gave an insight into sports journalism. She spoke about how it is “in real terms a privileged position”, as she put it. What was interesting is that you get to see everything up close – which I didn’t realise!
As a sports journalist, I would be able to interview all the sports people I look up to, as well as seeing all the events I would love to see – but it's part of the job. It sounded like it would be brilliant! However, I thought that it sounded challenging, as well. With football match reports required immediately as the final whistle blows, for example, there is a lot of pressure, especially as things can change at the last moment in sport.
The Netball Workshop with Tracey Neville was a fun thing to have in the middle of the day, as it was physical.
Tracey gave us lots of ball skills activities to challenge us. There were several passing exercises – some of which involved handling two balls at the same time! It was a really different session, compared to the others, and it was great to meet Tracey and learn from her. It was amazing to think that she normally coaches the Manchester Thunder team, who are at the top of the Superleague, but for today she was training us!
The Work of a BBC Sport Producer
This was a really interesting talk from Victoria Cotton. I didn’t actually realise the amount of things that go into broadcasting an event such as the Olympics! It was fascinating to listen to all the different things she has to think about as a producer in order to create a good programme.
It was really good to hear from someone who realised that, although she loved sport, she was never going to be a professional athlete – but didn’t let that stop her from making sport a part of her career.
Closing Keynote Speech: Jenny Meadows
Jenny reiterated some of Helen’s points from the Opening Keynote Speech and talked about doing sport because it’s what you love. However, her focus was different to Helen’s – where Helen only found rowing at the end of her time at university, Jenny found her passion for running at age six and three-quarters! She dedicated her whole life to the one sport that she loves.
Her speech made you realise that if you have a dream that you want to pursue, you should do it! Don't listen to what other people think – they may not have got there, but you may be able to, so go for it.
She also talked about some of the times when she failed or hit a rocky patch in her sporting career, such as losing at her first national event because of the pressure. However, she said that she used this as fuel to motivate her when she returned a year later to the same competition – and she won! It was really good to hear that professional athletes are just like us: human, capable of nerves and mistakes.
Jenny’s advice was not to be put off by knock-backs and losing: all athletes have to lose to become great. It was a really inspiring way to end the day!
Today has been very inspiring – especially the keynote speeches. It was really interesting to hear the different perspectives from Helen and Jenny, and also to realise that the underlying passion in each of them was the same. The most important part of their message was to keep participating in and enjoying sport of all kinds throughout your life. The Girls Go Gold Conference 2014 has been great fun too, and I have learned so much from all the different speakers.
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