Stacey Copeland, GB boxing star, is one of Sport England’s Sporting Champions, she regularly supports Sport England’s Sportivate programme. Stacey recently visited YMCA Lancaster’s Sportivate programme. Here is her story:

“My recent visit to the YMCA in Lancaster was a real pleasure. Buried in the heart of the town centre, the YMCA is home to an array of projects and initiatives which engage young people from all walks of life, and from the moment I walked in I could sense the energy and enthusiasm in the air!

I was met by Terry McLoughlin who leads on many of the projects (who also happens to be a lifelong boxing fan, so we had plenty in common straight away!) He led me up a few flights of stairs (certainly helps with the fitness efforts of the participants in the boxing session!) to a small gym area with cardio equipment where some of the young people were working out. We then continued onto a loft type space on the top floor. The room is a real hidden gem, punch bags, spin bikes, and all sorts of equipment, and most important of all, a very enthusiastic bunch ready to work out!

The group was a mixture of young women who take part in the Sportivate boxing project, as well as some of the NCS participants (National Citizenship Service.) We began with a talk and Q+A session and there were a few questions about handling nerves, staying motivated, and nutrition. Following this we did a boxing session which focussed on basic boxing techniques as well as fitness. The group were great to work with, they had bags of enthusiasm and really gave their best in everything we did! They were also a lot of fun, really throwing themselves into the ‘shoulder touch’ game we did in pairs and enjoying the competition.

At the end I chatted to some of the young women who have aspirations to become competitive boxers, one in particular, 16 year old Farrah, was really keen to work towards her first bout. She has been boxing for 5 months and attending weekly sessions through the Sportivate project, and has really taken to boxing. She explained to me that she was very quiet and shy when she first attended, but has now developed her confidence – and this was certainly evident as she chatted away comfortably and asked lots of questions about what it’s like to box competitively. At the end of the session I did some padwork with her and she showed a lot of natural ability. Before leaving she voiced her concerns about boxing for the first time in terms of nerves and having the confidence to box in front of others, so we discussed ways to manage that and I’m sure she will go onto pursue her sporting aspirations and fulfil her obvious potential!

As an athlete it is a real privilege to be able to influence others in a positive way; having the opportunity to pass on some advice to young people just like Farrah and her club mates, and perhaps have a small part in encouraging their journey towards achieving their goals is extremely rewarding. I will be visiting the YMCA in Lancaster again in the near future and I am already excited to see the progress of the group!”

Sportivate is the £56 million National Lottery funded Olympic and Paralympic legacy initiative that gives 11 to 25-year-olds who aren’t particularly sporty six to eight weeks’ free coaching in a new sport and then helps them find low costs ways to continue to play.

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