Basketball court

Jade’s story: ‘Sport saved me at every tough time in my life.’

At every single tough time in Jade’s life, sport has saved her. From her upbringing on a London estate, to losing her mum in her teens and overcoming depression, playing sports and the sense of belonging it brings has been the recurring saving grace.

Unlike her dad, Jade’s mum recognised the value of sport for girls as well as boys and encouraged her and her brothers from a young age to be actively involved. Jade channelled her energy into becoming a top gymnast where she learnt the power of commitment, determination and hard work and where that can take you in life. She was selected for the Great British Gymnastic squad by the age of 12 and was winning national championships.

Aged 15, Jade tragically lost her mum to cancer and for a while she battled with her mental health and lost her way. Having lost her biggest supporter, she could no longer see the point in being disciplined and working hard – key lessons taught by her mum and reinforced by her early successes in gymnastics.

Once again it was sport that saved her during this challenging time. Whilst playing basketball on her London estate someone came from Brixton Recreational centre and offered to include her and her friends in games for just a couple of quid.

Jade found a sense of belonging at the Rec, it was here that she found a new community and was accepted for playing a sport that was often dominated by boys and men.

Sport has taught me about discipline, community, hard work, persistence, to enjoy life.

Now in her early 30’s Jade is a Senior Lecturer in Sports Science and Sports Psychology at St Mary’s University in London. She teaches the value of sport, not only the physical benefits and skills but also for every day life. Inspiring young women and being a positive role model is important to Jade. She knows that being from an ethnic minority and a woman, she can personally show the power and benefits of sport and help to inspire the next generation.

Jade say’s the person she is today is all thanks to her doing sport. It has brought to her life a positive community of people, a lot of fun, taught her the power of hard work and persistence. Her mum always told her to be the ‘best version of herself’ and Jade knows that it is sport that has helped her to do just that.

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