Active 2014

Everyone deserves a sporting chance

MAKING sport available to all and not just the elite is the aim of Glasgow's Fatemeh Nokhbatolfoghahai and Hannah Dines.

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Hannah Dines and Fatemeh Nokhbatolfoghahai, from Sport Scotland Young People's Sport Panel, at Bellahouston Cycle track  Picture: Kirsty Anderson
Hannah Dines and Fatemeh Nokhbatolfoghahai, from Sport Scotland Young People's Sport Panel, at Bellahouston Cycle track Picture: Kirsty Anderson

The girls are two of the newest members of Sport­Scotland's Young People's Sport Panel, a national platform which represents the voice of young people throughout the country. Their opinions will help influence and shape the future of sport in Scotland.

Incredibly Hannah, 21, from Anniesland, only discovered sport two years ago. Suffering from cerebral palsy, she says sport was never an option. Then she discovered racerunning, an innovative sport for disabled people with impaired balance. On a custom-built tricycle balance isn't a problem.

"I have since competed to the highest level and helped build the new sport," says the University of Dundee student. "I was given a university sports scholarship and have been selected by GB Paracycling for a second sport - trike racing."

She says her life has changed dramatically and her story proves that no-one should dismiss sport.

Launched in 2013 by SportScotland, in partnership with Young Scot, Hannah and Fatemeh are part of the second intake of 16 sport panel members who will discuss the ways in which they will utilise their roles to influence and shape the future of sport in Scotland and raise its profile.

"We are all Paralympic and Olympic boom children, so we've gone from not having many opportunities to having a lot," says Hannah.

"There are lots of sports opportunities in Glasgow but when you go further north it peters out. It's important that the next generation are being directed correctly."

Fatemeh, 17, has just left Hillhead High School and plans to go to the University of Glasgow after the summer. She says if it wasn't for playing basketball she wouldn't have achieved the work-life balance that got her through long months of studying.

A basketball player for six years, she has trained with Glasgow Storm and Glasgow Fever ladies teams and is a keen runner. The life lessons she has learned from sport will stand her in good stead as she faces university, she says.

"I don't compete at a high level but I feel sport is a really important part of my life.

"For the youth of today, sport is a means of relieving stress, becoming socially active, learning to be fair and understand that hard work is rewarding."

She is keen to focus on the work already being done in community sport hubs and the school sports awards. Community activity is vital, she stresses.

SportScotland chairman Louise Martin CBE is looking forward to working with the new recruits, who met for the first time last week.

"They were selected from hundreds of applicants because of their passion to make a difference in Scottish sport," she explains. "The strides which have been made by the inspirational young people who were part of the first panel is incredible and I'm sure the next group will continue to build on this fantastic work."

As a voice for 14 to 25-year-olds, the panel will focus on raising the profile of sport within this age group, ­including through the provision of online content, videos and blogs through Young Scot's www.youngscot.org and social media.

angela.mcmanus@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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Tips to help you keep active from the Glasgow Club

  • Be realistic about what you want to achieve
  • Build up the intensity and frequency of your activity sessions gradually
  • Find an activity which you enjoy
  • Exercise with a friend
  • Use the stairs as often as possible
  • Make active choices as part of your daily routine
  • Get out at Lunchtime! Why not go to the shops or park at lunchtime instead of staying at work? The walk will also make you feel more awake in the afternoon