This Girl Can: Shayma Ahmed

Shayma Ahmed who is a Young Leaders Academy graduate currently studying Sport & Exercise Science at LSBU tells us how she got involved with sport.

Shayma Ahmed

Young Leaders Academy (Graduate)
Studying Sport & Exercise Science at LSBU


What impact has sport had on you and your life?

Sports has dramatically improved my physical, mental, and social health from the moment I started taking part in it. It given me a purpose and has allowed me to feel free of restraints of cultural and society’s expectations and form my own standards and expectations of myself. Its also forced me out of my comfort zone and resulted in me communicating to people of all different backgrounds and ages, teaching me how to tailor my communication depending on who I conversed with, which now I use in all aspects of life. Due to this I have been able to make solid connections with people and expand my network to fall back on when searching for new opportunities. Competing and training in sports has taught me a level of self-discipline and patience that athletes would acquire through wins and losses in both team and individual sports, and had improved my responses to negative situations I may face In daily life e.g. University, exams, personal issues etc. sports has taught me many lessons and has shaped the way I think and has ultimately made me realise to take part in as many opportunities as possible.


Have you faced any challenges or had to overcome any barriers in sport? (how did you overcome these?)

As a Bengali Muslim girl when I was 14 years old and realised, I wanted a career in sports I instantly faced many difficulties to even bring up the idea of taking sports seriously. In the south Asian background, sports is seen as a ‘waste of time’ and especially for a female, sports is seen as a ‘male dominated area’ which we should avoid at all costs. It's not widely accepted in the culture for anyone to ‘waste’ time in sports and so it is looked down on. However, I continued to plough on and showed to family and friends that sport is not a sector that is only about playing but also how complex and relative to everyday life and health it is. Soon people around me started to accept and open their eyes to the amount of physical and academic effort that can go into wanting a career in sports. Challenges with the south Asian culture is something I know I will face in the long term, but it is a challenge I am willing to face and win over. Another aspect I face difficulty in is clothing that can cater to religious rulings. However, in many places I have trained, competed, and coached in, I have been able to wear the hijab and modest clothing, and I hope that that is the case for the future too.


How was your experience of engaging with the Young Leaders Academy?

When I took part in the Young Leaders Academy in the pre-COVID-19 times I loved every aspect of it. Before the academy I was volunteering in assisting the delivery of PE lessons in my school for 6 hours a week during sixth form without actually realising how many hours I was putting in, however once joining the academy I realised how much time I was putting in and the experience I was gaining. Having the bronze, silver, and gold awards to earn gave me even more motivation to volunteer and soon enough I had completed the gold award. Even after I’d finished the awards, I’m still in contact with Ashley for more opportunities i.e. Courses run by Nike and Badu sports which for sure will benefit me by expanding my network and finding opportunities for experience and internships.


What skills have you developed since joining the Young Leaders Academy?

Since joining the academy my communication with people I had only just met improved and I was able to work and complete tasks easily with complete strangers. Now in my first year of university I can see the benefit of being able to converse with random people especially as I have to meet new people online, most of them without their cameras on and only mic turned on. Even in this situation I have been comfortable taking lead in group work and assessments.


Would you recommend the Young Leaders Academy to other young people?

I would definitely recommend others from all different levels of coaching to join the academy as you meet people who are like you and you can learn from others experiences in coaching to improve your own while also being able to expand your network professionally for you to use later on in the future. A bonus is getting a level 1 qualification at the end of the gold award.


How will you engage in sport during your time at university?

I am now a course representative for my sports and exercise science degree where I deal with issues and work with students and lecturers to come up with a solution and improve academic standards in my university. I have also just recently been given a sports ambassadors role within my university which trains me up and improves my skills in coaching, so once I am ready I am able to deliver PE lessons in schools and get paid the average wage or above for doing so.


What are your career aspirations? Will engagement in sport support you on this pathway?

My ambition is to become a secondary school PE teacher once I finish my degree and potentially later on do a masters and fingers crossed a PhD to become a qualified researcher or university lecturer so engagement for sure will support me on this pathway.


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