The Leeds Girls Can Ambassadors were very lucky and grateful to be invited to the Leeds Sports Awards 2018. It was a rare occasion in more than one way, we swapped our trainers for heels, the only problem was that we hardly recognised each other in all our finery away from a muddy park or sweaty spin studio. Held at the First Direct Arena, this was a highly prestigious event, just to give you a sense of the scale of the awards, it was sponsored by Leeds Bid, Banana Kick, The University of Leeds, ImageCo, Blacks Solicitors, First Direct Bank, Leeds Bradford Airport, Sport Leeds, Yorkshire Sport Foundation, Resource, SWPix, Leeds Sports Federation, Leeds City Council and the Yorkshire Evening Post. Quite a mouthful.
It was a wonderful evening celebrating the achievements of all sorts of people involved in sports in Leeds, with young, senior and special contributions awards, it was an extremely diverse line up. As Leeds Girls Can Ambassadors we were very interested in the female winners, celebrating their strength and determination in their respective sports. We were lucky enough to get to meet some of them, accidentally photo bombing Izzy Palmer’s family photo – sorry Izzy. Izzy won the Young Sportswoman – Disability Award for her amazing efforts and achievements as a para dressage rider. I’m actually quite terrified of horses so I’m in awe of her for even going near one but at age 17 with a list of achievements that would take up this entire blog post, she really is the perfect example of a Leeds Girl proving that she can.
We also met Charlotte Booth, winner of the Student Sport – Individual Award. Charlotte is also the first female rugby league player to receive the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) from Sport England. Charlotte plays for the Leeds Rhinos and has played on the England Squad. Now I don’t know that much about rugby but you don’t need to be an expert to realise that she is an absolutely phenomenal player, fantastic role model and literally #quadgoals. Charlotte is also a student at Leeds Trinity and we bonded over the joy that is Temple Donuts and Coffee (if you haven’t been you need to go, it’s on Kirkstall Road – have a cheeky Google). It just shows, if a pro rugby player says it’s fine to eat donuts, it’s 100% fine to eat donuts.
Another amazing female athlete that we met was Boxing Coach Sam Smith, Sam and her fellow coach Graham Mattison won the Coach – Participation Award. It was wonderful to hear about the positive impact their club (Alliance Boxing) has on the Leeds community. A highlight of the evening was when some younger club members started doing a demonstration of their boxing techniques on stage (not on each other, don’t worry). As much as the children entertained us, it was obvious to see that this confidence was a direct product of their experiences at the club. Sport doesn’t just keep us fit, it gives us confidence in day to day life.
We also got to meet Hannah Cockcroft MBE winner of the Sportswoman – Disability Award, an absolute legend. Her numerous successes include her multiple Gold medal wins at London 2012 and Rio 2016 in wheelchair racing. She was lovely and so happy to have a picture with us as Leeds Girls Can. It really struck me how all of the athletes that we met were so happy to talk to us. It felt like they were instantly part of the Leeds Girls Can and wider This Girl Can community, because we were all there for the same reason. To show our support for the achievements and efforts for men and women in sports, regardless of gender or age, everybody equally deserved their awards.
Thank you to Banana Kick for inviting us! We had a great time representing Leeds Girls Can amongst such a vibrant, energetic and fun Leeds sporting community.
Facebook: Emily Ankers – Leeds Girls Can Ambassador