Meeting the Volunteers from LEAP

From a young age I have been actively engaged in sports and competition and have benefited from the physical and social benefits that access to sport provides. As a proud member of the LGBTIQ+ community and someone from a multi-sports background, I am passionate about the work of LEAP Sports in breaking down barriers and improving LGBTIQ+ representation and participation in sport. I felt privileged to be afforded the opportunity to work more closely with LEAP and represent them as part of the United through Urban Movement (UUM) project and learn more about the urban sports world.

Our first international trip to Budapest allowed me the opportunity to participate in an urban sports camp and I thoroughly enjoyed practising and learning new skills in the try-out sessions of parkour, 3×3 basketball and street workout. I was really impressed by the indoor and outdoor sports facilities including the public basketball courts and in particular the parkour facility designed and built by partner organisation HOP. I found these very fun and inclusive environments that supported the accessibility and learning of these sports. 

As part of the project I supported the organisation and delivery of a local urban sports event in Glasgow for LGBTQI+ young people and allies. This experience taught me about how to appropriately plan and consider a number of relevant factors that would support the facilitation of the event and maximise participant enjoyment. Some of these included liaising with local partners and organisations for example coaches, caterers, sourcing suitable venues, promoting the event locally, considering participant needs and hopes for the event and showcasing the aims and values of the UUM project within the event. The event was hosted in Glasgow during an unprecedented, busy time for the city in the lead up to the COP26 climate conference. This presented unique challenges including sourcing suitable, available venues and transport between events that required us to work flexibly and creatively with the options available. We were able to overcome these challenges and maximise the urban sport experience by hosting the events in public parks, outdoor sports facilities and city spaces and were even lucky enough to escape the Glasgow rain.

Participation in the UUM project so far has been a privilege and I have particularly enjoyed meeting participants from the different European partners and learning more about their home nations and the work they are doing in their local communities to improve sports accessibility and participation.

The employability workshops were a fantastic opportunity to engage with both group trainers and participants to discuss career goals and our individual skills and qualities that would enhance employability. I found it helpful to explore potential career progressions and pathways and how these could be achievable. I also appreciated the opportunity to engage in mock interview sessions to practice different interview styles and techniques which will be applicable and of great benefit in future.

I became interested in getting involved with the project after seeing an ad for the volunteer role pop up on social media. I have a keen interest in sports as I study Sports Engineering at University as well as a passion for creating inclusive spaces – this seemed like the perfect combination of both! It had been a while since I had last done any volunteering so I was excited to get back into it, plus urban sports was not something I had done much of in the past so I was eager to try it out.

I didn’t have any experience of working with LEAP Sports before starting the project but felt very welcomed once I started. It’s a great team and I’ve enjoyed working with Carolina and Laura. Our first couple of meetings were all through zoom so we didn’t meet in person till the bus journey to the airport to catch our flight to Budapest.

The camp was a lot of fun – I had been to Budapest before but it was great getting to discover it through a more sporty means. My favourite parts were using the local hire bikes to explore the city and getting to try parkour for the first time. It was a tiring weekend but definitely worth it!

Organising the local event was a lot of work but I felt like it turned out well in the end. I hadn’t anticipated how tricky it could be to find a venue to use but thankfully we were able to find some really great outdoor spaces.

I’m excited to continue my UUM journey. I’m most looking forward to the Urban Sports Festival in Malta. I’ve never been to Malta before but I really enjoyed learning about it during the international night at the Sports Camp. It’ll be a lot of fun to discover a new place!