The Moray Council

Lead the Way!

Hi! I’m Mairi, a S6 pupil at Speyside High School and sports enthusiast. I am a keen orienteer and athlete, regularly training and competing with Moravian Orienteers and Elgin Amateur Athletics Club. I also love to be a leader and coach. When I was in S4, I was a sports Young Ambassador at school, which allowed me to lead the sports committee and set up new opportunities at school for sport. For the past five years I have organised and delivered orienteering activities for the P7s on their transition day and when they are in S1 I run a club at school called ‘S1 Try-Sports’ aiming to get the new S1s involved with all the clubs on offer at school. This means I am often leading sports that I don’t have much experience in!

In September, Roo Hornby, from Moravian Orienteers got in touch telling me about an opportunity to develop my leadership skills through workshops and meet other young leaders in sport in an event named ‘Lead the Way’, put on by sportscotland and the Young People’s Sport Panel as part of the Year of Young People. I was immediately interested and wanted to find out more.

After being helped through the application by my club and Active Schools, I headed to Glasgow in November to take part in the event with other people across Scotland from the ages of 17-25. The event was held in Hampden Stadium, and yes – we got to go pitch side for photos during lunch! After being welcomed to the event and given our workbooks, we went straight into a very engaging and interactive presentation on self-awareness, delivered by Tree of Knowledge, where several tasks were set to us to help us get ready for the day ahead.

From that, we went to our first workshop. There were four options, and everyone had picked two earlier. My first workshop was “Communication” and here I learned how vital non-verbal communication is, as well as how vocabulary and voice intonation affect how we are understood by others. We also discussed the way in which body language is used to show we are listening or to keep people engaged. This was a very interactive workshop, with 5 different activities to put what we learnt into practice immediately.

Then it was lunch time, and an opportunity to talk to the other leaders there. I met two girls from Shetland and others who lead in martial arts and archery. We also went out into the stadium for pictures and a breath of fresh air before the afternoon activities started.

The next workshop I was in was entitled “Connecting with Others”. Here we learned about how when we are coaching a group, people skills are just as vital as knowledge of the sport. We discussed the attributes that make a coach great and made action plans to connect with others more in our leadership roles.

The final thing was a roundup of the day and a few more fun challenges, and the day was over!

In the month since attending the Lead the Way event I have used all the information I got from the opportunity to help me be a better leader. For example, in the S1 Try-Sports club, I have delivered netball sessions, a sport I had no prior knowledge of. However, I remembered one phrase that we were told – that “coaches are in the business of people” – which reminded me to make the sessions as fun as possible for everyone. As it turned out, the S1s really enjoyed the netball!

Overall the experience was fantastic! It encouraged me to take a different perspective on my leading style and gave me new methods to ensure my leading is best for the group I am coaching, such as changing how I communicate with the group and using more non-verbal communication. I would encourage anybody to take an opportunity such as this and go for it.