Hey everyone! and Happy Tuesday!
This past July I had the chance to be a participant in the 5th edition of the European Athletics Young Leaders Forum which took place in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. And my word what a wonderful buzzing city it was. This was my first time visiting, and I had no idea what to expect, especially with its wild reputation.
But in general I had no idea what to expect at all, not just of the city. The first couple of weeks leading up to the forum were full of excitement and preparation for the week ahead, as each individual had to also prepare a presentation on a subject of their choice related to athletics in their country and present a video along with it. But suddenly weeks quickly became days and before I knew it I was ready to catch a flight to Amsterdam.
I remember sitting at the airport riddled with emotions, there definitely was excitement but I am not gonna lie there was also a feeling of uncertainty. I had never done anything like this before, travelling to a completely new city on my own, without knowing anyone when I got there. As a I sat in Frankfurt Airport in my layover stop between Valencia and Amsterdam, those feelings of uncertainty quickly disappeared, because there in the airport sitting beside me was part of the German athletics team, and that is when it hit me, where I was actually going. I was on my way to be a part of one of the biggest sporting events that year in Europe, The European Athletics Championships.
The Young Leaders Forum, will definitely be a week hard to forget. The Forum had around 75 participants from 50 different European Countries, and I will never forget any of them. I have never met so many different nationalities at the same time in my entire life, we may not have known each other that day we landed of that plane and that we were complete strangers to one and other, but by the end of that week when it came time to go home, I can honestly say I left with 75 new amazing people I can call friends, and 50 different countries that I am dying to explore thanks to them.
But the Young Leaders Forum goes far and beyond just meeting incredible like minded people and watching fantastic athletics, the educational event brought together ideas from so many different points of view, that I never would have thought of in the past. It aimed to equip young people to design and deliver projects that benefit the grassroots of athletics and local communities.
Like I mentioned before the Forum coincided with the European Athletics Championships. Every evening we made our way to the Olympic Stadium in the city and sat in the athletes tribune, literally elbow to elbow with world record holders, olympic gold medallists and of course European gold medallist, it was incredible! Not only did I get to talk to these athletes, but as an athlete I got to witness first hand what it is like to be in an incredible event like this, although my experience was just from the stand. ( Oh well a girl’s got to dream..)
Most of the funniest moments from that week came from our method of travel, “bicycles” environmentally friendly and a fantastic way to see as much of the city as possible, however 75 people on a bike in one of the busiest cities in Europe does make for some funny stories. Some “may or may” not have bumped into each other a few times. Every morning we got to travel through Vondel Park on our bikes, I couldn’t believe how many people were enjoying picnics and exercising so early in the morning.
“Leaders aren’t born, they are made.
And they are made just like anything else,
through hard work.”
– Vince Lombardi
Overall I can probably say that what I learnt the most from my week as a Young Leader is the Desire to Make a Difference: Each of us during that week wanted to be there, none of us were forced. In one way or another we each shared a great passion for Athletics, and want to make a different no matter how big or small.
No one arrived that week as a leader, no one came from a position of power. We were all equals, every young leader needs to see that there is more ahead. A Young Leader will advance and grow, we may have been slightly under-qualified as leaders, but we grew better, together.
Keen to Learn: During the week we absorbed culture and information, from other countries without judgement or prejudice, we simply listened/ learnt and embraced what we could all share with each other. Many of us had a different view of the world and a different field of knowledge to others this helped identify areas where we could provide a different insight.
I am so grateful I can call myself a Young Leader for Sport and can’t wait to keep spreading the love for sport to all generations, and share more incredible adventures and stories with you.
Sport has the power to bring generations and people from across the globe together, Why shouldn’t we do as much as possible to get involved?