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Sports Mentors

Sporting success as easy as ABC…Sophie

Fifty primary school pupils are to receive a huge boost this week, as a new sporting initiative, with a sports star as its mentor, kicks off in East Ayrshire.

Commonwealth Games weightlifter, Sophie Smyth, will play a key role in developing a ‘Physical Literacy’ programme aimed at improving the Agility, Balance and Co-ordination of young pupils, helping them to develop the skills needed to flourish in sport.

In addition, Sophie will also champion a mentoring programme predicated on encouraging success and positive thinking as a key part of the physical literacy project.

Delivered through the new Academy Community Sports Hub the Physical Literacy programme has been funded by BIG Lottery through their ‘Awards for All’ grant scheme and will support 50 Primary 1 pupils to become involved in 6 different sports over 30 weeks.

Councillor Eoghann MacColl Cabinet Member Housing and Communities welcomed the partnership work between voluntary local sports clubs and EAC’s Vibrant Communities which led to the development of this exciting new programme.

He said: “This is another fine example of our wonderful local sports clubs leading on a ground-breaking initiative with the help and assistance of Vibrant Communities for the benefit of our young sports stars of tomorrow.

“BIG Lottery funding is a mark of the quality of work these clubs have achieved and I look forward to seeing the programme in action and to seeing the findings the work will produce as we work towards giving our young people the skills to succeed in a range of different sports and activities.”

At 22 Sophie already knows exactly what it takes to compete at the highest level but she also knows that her success wasn’t built solely in the weights room – and this is the experience she wants to pass on to younger generations.

She said: “Weightlifting is my sport and I have focused solely on my development in this since I was 17.

“But I also enjoyed basketball, badminton and gymnastics and, through these sports, I began to build the physical and psychological skills which helped me reach the top in my chosen sport of weightlifting.”

Sophie’s view is echoed by the Scottish national sports body, sportscotland, whose research suggests that the early development of good Physical Literacy skills, allied to positive mentoring and encouragement, are crucial  to young people being successful and reaching new heights in their chosen sport.

This, in turn, encourages young sports stars in the making to stay engaged in training and competing.

Sophie added: “By encouraging the youngest pupils in East Ayrshire to develop their ABC skills and also supporting them with positive praise, focused on the processes of sports development, rather than the outcomes, my mentoring will really help them be the best they can.

“This is called a ‘Growth Mindset’ and it is this trait that will ultimately allow our young people to succeed in all facets of life.”

The registration process begins in schools from mid-September and the programme starts from Monday 12 October 2015.

To find out more look for The Academy Community Sports Hub on Facebook or email:


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