A summer well spent with LEAP Sports Scotland

31st August 2022

A summer well spent with LEAP Sports Scotland

A Summer well spent with LEAP Sports Scotland

One of our Interns Telfer Gray who came from the Robertsons Trust shares his experience of working with us. 

This summer I had the pleasure of being an Intern on a placement with LEAP Sports Scotland. Firstly, I cannot express enough the warm welcome and friendly atmosphere I received when I stepped through the office door. The small band of staff and volunteers makes this Charity organisation a special place, which do a lot of good in breaking barriers in sporting participation for the LGBTIQ+ community.

At the start of my summer Internship, I was kept busy. Diving into the deep end of one of LEAP’s yearly highlights, their Festival Fortnight. Even though Scotrail’s train strike prevented me from attending some events up in Aberdeen and Perth, I was able to attend an event in Edinburgh which brought me to Colinton Squashers and Padelers. The full day event put on by the club was a great experience for me, as well as getting to take part in a new sport in Padel Tennis, which I think I had a little bit of a natural knack for. However, the tennis was a different story all together, coach Vicky kept having to correct my hand grip on the racket. I had a really enjoyable few hours there and it was great to meet with Jonathan again at Colinton Squashers and Padelers after meeting him at the East Forum a week earlier. From writing up Festival Fortnight reports and promoting the events across Scotland I hopefully helped give people the chance to take part in new activities and meet new friends.

The three months went by in a flash, giving me the opportunity to develop new skills and witness some new events, so many of which have all made a lasting impression on myself. In particular taking part in my first ever Pride March at Mardi Gla. Hearing and seeing shouts and placards advocating for positive change amongst the vibrant colourful parade. Marching through the streets of Glasgow it really did make me realise how fortunate I am to live in a country, which has a majority of its people supporting the LGBTIQ+ community. After the march attending the Sports Hub at Strathclyde University gave me the chance to meet with LEAP partner sports clubs, to see all the wonderful things they get up to. Though my arms and legs may not thank me for taking part in Tony Basra’s punishing bodyweight circuit session (though I promise it was fun Tony). It was clear to see LEAP has clearly caught the attention of sporting clubs across Scotland, further empathising the potential that LEAP has in increasingly championing for diversifying sport. All clubs in attendance whether that be the Glasgaroos, Saltire Thistle or Uplifted amongst many others were very approachable and welcoming. I really enjoyed meeting the members and hearing their success stories.

Even though the UK still has many avenues to improve to make LGBTIQ+ people feel safe and welcomed, it has been refreshing to see LEAP advocating for positive change on an international front too. Whether that be through their work with Erasmus+ youth exchanges and training programmes or through advocating for international change.

It is through LEAP’s international presence, particularly on a European front, that I got to meet participants from the Out of the Margins project, at Pride Youth Games. Meeting sporting enthusiasts like myself take part in new activities, feeling comfortable exercising in a safe environment, taught me the power that sport really does have to change the world to a better place. Leading the social media coverage, connecting with participants and partners throughout the weekend of Pride Youth Games also reinforced to me that sport isn’t always about winning. Increasing participation is key, if not the most important and that is exactly what LEAP aim to do. The depth of activities that were on offer definitely kept me on my toes! Though witnessing and in some cases participating in these new activities gave me an impetus to learn more about them. After all who knew that Floorball, Padel Tennis and Korfball were so fun?

In attending a Trans Active workshop with Al and Mat it gave me a chance to witness the work that they do in enabling more sporting opportunities for transgender people too. There is still a lot of sporting facilities out there that need adapted to make their spaces fully inclusive to everyone. This is why it is really good that the Trans Active programme has been extended to Edinburgh as well as the Glasgow based project. The greater the learning material out there for sporting providers to adapt their facilities to make sporting environments the better!

In the future I am looking forward to keeping up to date with the involvements of LEAP Sports Scotland. I will continue to champion for LGBTIQ+ participation in sport, spreading the word about the work that LEAP do, as well as remaining connected with friends made within the team. I hope to see you soon LEAP Sports!

Written on 31st August 2022.