A 15-year-old Northampton girl has been recognised by the Youth Sport Trust and awarded the regional winner of the Inspirational Ambassador in the Girls Active Awards 2017.
Sophie Willis of Caroline Chisholm School has been handed the Inspirational Ambassador award, which recognises a student who has gone above and beyond to get other girls engaged in physical activity or sport.
The Girls Active Awards celebrates the work of schools to develop positive attitudes towards sport and recognises individual students for their personal academic achievements, wellness transformations and inspirational leadership through increased physical activity.
Sophie, who plays rugby, cricket and football and said: "I think it’s important to inspire other girls because of all the benefits of sport, and I think there are more obstacles for girls.
"For example, there are simply fewer clubs for them to join. I play football for Parklands Tigers - I was advised to join a boys’ club because a lot of people say you’re more likely to get scouted that way, but I chose to join a girls’ club.
"Sport for me has been massive - it’s helped me make so many friends and it makes me feel more confident because it’s given me more opportunities to work on my leadership skills. In the future, I definitely want to do something to do with sport."
One teacher said that Sophie has encouraged other girls to become more involved in physical activity.
"She took it upon herself to achieve her Sports Leaders Level One Award in order to improve her leadership skills," said PE teachers, Joe Rich,
"She tends to prefer sports more traditionally associated with boys, but in light of her involvement with the Girls Active programme she has set up an extracurricular club that she feels would appeal to girls who have lower participation levels. She was responsible for the organisation, promotion and running of the club every week. Initially, we had two girls attend, but we’ve since seen 20 girls coming on a weekly basis.
"Sophie wears her Girls Active hoody with pride and has been a real role model to other girls. The whole project has seen Sophie increase in confidence, and I’m sure she will go on to influence the participation of others for many years to come."
Funded by Sport England National Lottery and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust in partnership with Women in Sport, it aims to tackle declining participation in physical activity by adolescent girls and its associated implications for health, wellbeing and academic attainment.
Regional winners were chosen from the North, Central and South of England, with one overall winner to be announced in October.