19-year-old Shakila Ahmed, from South Tyneside, has claimed bronze at Sport England’s National Satellite Club Participant of the Year Awards, in recognition of her contribution and outstanding commitment to taking part in community sport. The award was presented this week by Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch MP and Paralympic superstar Dame Sarah Storey.
Until recently, Shakila wasn’t very active but that all changed when she joined the South Tyneside College Running Group, delivered by South Shields Harriers. During her first few sessions, Shakila felt quite self-conscious, and would only attend on the condition her friend came along too for moral support. Now six months on, Shakila’s confidence has rocked. Not only is she happy to go to the sessions by herself, now Shakila helps the coach lead the runs. Reaping the benefits of being active, Shakila has also noticed a big improvement in her mental and physical health. Moreover her love of running is encouraging more girls like her to give it a go.
Shakila is one of over 430,000 young people who have attended more than 9,300 satellite clubs across England since 2012. Two thirds of the young people benefiting from the clubs report that they would not be playing sport in their own time if it were not for their satellite club.
Accepting the award, Shakila said: “This experience helped me develop my skills and gain some new ones such as leadership and coaching skills. Helping out with the satellite club opened up many opportunities to such as participating in running sessions and the Colour Rush. All of this has been has been an eye opener for me. It helped me realise that I wanted to improve and grow as a person, for example it has motivated me to go into higher education to expand my knowledge and make something of myself.”
Executive Director at Tyne & Wear Sport, Ian Simon, said: “Tyne & Wear Sport are delighted that Shakila has been shortlisted for the Satellite Club Awards National Finals. Although participants from Tyne & Wear have previously won the North East Regional Satellite Club participant of the year, Shakila is the first person to have made it to the national final. We believe that this accolade is a fitting reflection of Shakila's dedication and commitment and the excellent support she has received at her satellite club from South Tyneside College and South Shields Harriers.”
Director for Community Sport at Sport England, Mike Diaper, said: “Shakila’s award is very well deserved. Starting a sport or activity for the first time can be really nerve wrecking, but thanks to Shakila’s resolve she kept going and is now able to support other students get past those difficult first sessions. Her journey obviously was helped thanks to the support of the South Tyneside College Running Group, and I wish both them and Shakila, continued success.”