Edinburgh Jessica - YPSP

Education: The Royal High School

Sport:   Football, dance and netball and during my free time I enjoy going skiing and snowboarding. Recently I have also picked up long distance running.

Coaching and volunteering: I volunteer with a after school organisation called Earthcalling which aims to help young people find a love for being outside in nature.

Club: I am a member of Hutchison Vale Football Club

Hobbies: When I’m not participating in some sort of sport, I am really interested in all things science and enjoy seeing different parts of the world from travelling abroad to even discovering new parts of Scotland. Like most teens, my friends are my world

Proudest achievement: I would say that my proudest achievement would be recovering from knee surgery due to a bad skiing accident which took me out of all sports for a year and building up my stamina so that I can go on long runs. 

Future aspirations: In the future I would love to go to university to study medicine. I also hope to find time in between my studies to go travelling around Europe and America so that I can surround myself with different cultures and ways of living.

Interesting fact: Don’t tell anyone, but I’m a wee bit accident prone


Q&A with Jess


What sport are you involved in and what is it that you love about it?

Sport has always been a massive part of my life. My grandparents bought me my first pair of football boots when I was around 5 and that’s where my sporting journey properly started. Football has always been my all-time favourite sport to play. I started off playing for my primary school team and then lead by parent volunteers, we started the first Blackhall Athletic girls club team due to a lack of a High School girls’ team. These years are responsible for most of my footie highlights (including changing our official name to Blackhall Unicorns momentarily but we don’t have to talk about that!) However, at the end of last year, funding and engagement was down and so we merged with Hutchison Vale football club allowing us to expand and improve.

Football has opened up so many opportunities and taught me some important life lessons, but the real reason I’m still playing to this day is my team. We have grown up playing football together, been there through tough times and cared for each other like family and I hope we continue to do so. Aside from footie, I have always been a massive fan of snow-sports like skiing and snowboarding and love when I get the opportunity to travel abroad and challenge myself with some nasty black runs. Other favourites include table tennis, basketball, swimming, tennis and long distance running. Honestly any sport you throw at me I will give it my all!

What motivated you to be part of the Young People’s Sport Panel?

First of all, from my first answer you can probably tell I love all things sport! My main reason for applying was the idea that by being in this position I would be able to help the young people of Scotland fall in love with sport the way I did! Sport has given me so many skills and taught me some very important life lessons and it is important to me that it continues to do so for others! After being a sports ambassador for my school, I have witnessed how much of an impact that sport can have on young people’s mental health and well-being and so when this opportunity arrived there was no doubt that it was something I was interested in.

What do you think of the YPSP so far and what work are you involved in?

So far, the YPSP has been great! I have met some amazing and driven people who are all clearly just as passionate about sport as I am and everyone is very supportive and understanding of our different backgrounds and experiences within sport. I am lucky enough to be part of the inclusion focus group which means that throughout our time on the panel we will be focusing mainly on making sure that everyone feels like they belong in their sport. To start off with we are focusing on disability within sport, but to progress with this subject we feel we need to know more about it and so our first step is to get us all through disability inclusion training and then to link up with Scottish Disability Sport through their young person’s panel and see where we can help them. We will then look at how we can encourage clubs and/or sporting facilities to be more actively inclusive and welcoming.

What do you think are (some of) the big challenges facing young people in Scotland today?

I honestly feel that the young people of Scotland must deal with so much. Whether it’s the negative impacts of social media, bullying or even trying to fit in a lot of these ‘challenges’ all seem to impact young people’s self-esteem and confidence. It is so easy for teenagers to compare themselves to their friends which can be upsetting but now with constant reminder of the so called ‘beauty standards’ that social media has been known to promote, young people are left feeling like they aren’t good enough which can affect their mental health. It’s difficult to address as this issue has been developing over some time and with the shift towards moving everything online the mindset that there are ‘beauty standards’ is being actively encouraged. But I am hopeful that with more recognition and time spent understanding how it affects young people, we will be able to breakdown the socially constructed notion that physical beauty is above all other qualities.

How do you think sport can help support young people in Scotland?

Talking from experience, sport allows young people to momentarily escape and get away from whatever is dragging them down in life. You meet new people, get to travel, gain new skills whilst also feeling great doing so. Sport is known to improve mental and physical health, reduce stress, develop key skills and relationships, boost self-esteem and if that’s not enough it also links all generations, cultures and walks of life! It allows people from all over the world to join and celebrate something that is important to us in different ways AND it’s incredibly enjoyable! What’s not too like?!

If you could change one thing about sport in Scotland, what would it be?

If I could do one thing it would be to get rid of the preconceived idea that the only way to be involved with sport in a profession is to be a high performing athlete. If you have ever been asked or have asked the question “What do you want to be when you’re older?”, the answer (if sports related) will 9 times out of 10 be a professional athlete of some kind. Although this is a great dream to have, and not in any way unachievable or unrealistic, there are so many other jobs and roles that are vital to have in the sporting world that most of us don’t even know exist! Whether that’s looking after athletes like physiotherapists and coaches or making sure sport runs smoothly like referees and ball people, each role has an important job that allows sport to run smoothly and it would be great to see young people encouraged early on to take interest in the this aspect of sport.

Is there a role model who inspires you? What is it about them that you admire?

​​​​​​​I know you are probably looking for some sporting hero, but if I were to answer this question honestly it would be Steve Martin. If you don’t know him, he’s an actor, comedian, and published author who you may have seen in some famous titles like ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ and ‘Father of the Bride’. The reason I admire him is not just that I grew up watching his work astonished by his talent and quick wit, but because what most people don’t know about him is that it took him years of small unreliable pub shows and part time jobs to make it as an accomplished comedian and then as an actor. He believed in himself when others didn’t, and he didn’t give up when times were tough which is what ultimately shaped him into the man he is today. He inspires me to push myself and go outside of my comfort zone but also remain true to myself like he has had to do.

Date published: 19 November 2020
Date updated: 03 December 2021


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