Tuesday, April 24, 2012

#communitysport blog: Ainsley Richards

Our latest blog in our Community Sport series comes from Ainsley Richards. In her role as a Young Ambassador, the teenager from Swansea has been responsible for inspiring, leading and coaching hundreds of young people in her community to get involved in sport.

A London 2012 Young Ambassador for the City and County of Swansea, she has been a busy volunteer with her school, the feeder primary schools and in her community as a coach.

Ainsley with Olympic and world Champion cyclist Geraint thomas
My parents have inspired to me take part in sport. They both train regularly. My dad has represented Wales in Karate and my mother has recently won two Welsh titles in the Welsh Masters Badminton Nationals, and represents Wales at Masters level. Both my younger brother and sister participate in different sports. This season, all three of us  ran in the County Cross Country team. It’s not unusual to see the whole family out running!

I realise the importance of sport from an obvious health factor, but individuals play a huge part in encouraging and motivating young people in sport. Certain individuals  that have been a great inspiration to me include people like Andrea Whitcombe in running, Lloyd Cole in Surfing, Huw John in Badminton and Wendy Bleddyn in Netball. They are so passionate about their sport, their enthusiasm is contagious and has  inspired me to develop and compete.

School has been really important. I attend YG Gwyr, where the PE department is excellent. Bethan Davies, Head of PE, has supported me in every area of sport, in torrential rain in cross country events and even sometimes travelling as far as Devon for a weekend to enable the school to compete in a British surfing competition, where I secured third place!

I wouldn’t have reached the level of badminton I have attained if it wasn’t for Mr Dai Long and his commitment to the school badminton club! Mrs. Katherine Davies, head teacher has also been really supportive of all my sporting activities.

Outside school, I belong to a number of different sporting clubs, including Glamorgan Badminton club, Mumbles Treforus netball and Swansea Harriers. It’s great having so many different friends outside school, and obviously it has improved my performance in these different sports.

I sometimes wish I had started to compete at an earlier age and had more opportunities to try different sports at primary school. My school had no resources on-site, so we had to be transported to venues. I used to envy children who have playing fields in the school grounds!

I was recently asked to help in a survey promoting ‘Rounders’ in England. I would love to see the development of Rounders as a sport in Wales.

I think that the advantages of taking part have to be promoted to young people at an early age. The Young Ambassador scheme is developing throughout Wales rapidly. I believe it is important for younger children to have role models to aspire to. Some young people are not aware of the activities available to them, perhaps sporting organisations could be a little more pro-active in visiting schools and offering taster sessions.

I have been fortunate to have been selected to volunteer at the Olympics. I’m hoping that the London 2012 Olympics/Paralympics will be a great vehicle to get more young people participating in sport.

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales