A trio of north-east sports stars have given their backing to an innovative sport and culture project for school children in Aberdeen.
Hockey player Leigh Fawcett, footballer Rachel Corsie and snowboarder Ben Kilner have been named as Ambassadors for the Aberdeen Youth Games (AYG) which is delivered by Robert Gordon University (RGU) and Sport Aberdeen.
A Legacy 2014 programme, the Aberdeen Youth Games is an innovative sport and physical activity programme that promotes health and wellbeing amongst Aberdeen’s young people which involves sports coaching, healthy living advice, and citizenship skills.
The ambassador announcement comes during Legacy Week, an initiative by the Scottish Government to celebrate lasting change across the country following the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Launched in November 2013, the 2013-14 Aberdeen Youth Games involved more than 3,000 pupils from 36 primary schools in the city who participated in a number of sporting and cultural activities throughout school year.
Bryan McCann, lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science at RGU, leads the project and is looking forward this year’s Festival of Sport which will see more than 1,000 pupils come together for a day of sporting activity at the end of May.
He said: “We’d like to welcome Rachel, Leigh and Ben to the Aberdeen Youth Games and are delighted they’ve agreed to become ambassadors for the project.
“They have all had fantastic sporting careers at the highest level and it’s great to have them involved with our exciting programme which delivers sporting and cultural activities for pupils across the city.”
Leigh Fawcett, 29, is a Scotland Women’s hockey player who represented her country at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Originally from Aberdeen, she studied Physiotherapy at RGU.
She said: “It was lovely to be asked to become an ambassador for the Youth Games. I’ve always taken part and enjoyed sport so it’s great to get involved.
“I’m keen to get kids involved with physical activity and with my experience I can help with giving advice and motivation. It’s very exciting that hockey is one of the sports that the youth games are promoting this year and it’s a great opportunity for kids to get a taste of the sport.”
Olympic snowboarder and British Half-pipe Champion Ben Kilner, 26, competed for Team GB at the age of 16 and is also an ambassador for AYG.
He said: “It’s awesome to have been asked to be an ambassador for the Aberdeen Youth Games. I look forward to seeing all the participants and hopefully I can inspire them to have a sporty future.”
Ben, who is from Banchory, has competed at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 and the Canada World Cup, where he won a Bronze medal. He plans to represent Team GB at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics.
Rachel Corsie, 25, originally from Hazlehead, studied Accounting and Finance at RGU and is a professional footballer who has played for Scotland and recently signed for Seattle Reign Football Club in the United States.
Rachel said: “When I first heard about the Aberdeen Youth Games I knew instantly it was a great initiative and it was something that I was very keen to be involved in.
“Growing up in Aberdeen I would have loved to have taken part in a project like this and I hope that everyone involved thoroughly embraces and enjoys the occasion.
“I am a great advocate for encouraging anyone to get involved in sport in any way and it’s terrific to see such an enthusiastic response from so many schools and young individuals so far.”
As part of the first year of the programme 32 second year BSc (Hons) Applied Sports and Exercise Science students from RGU received training in a number of sports and delivered coaching to pupils as part of their industry placements through Sport Aberdeen’s Active Schools Team.
The project team has also gained the support of North East Scotland College and all of their sport and fitness students will be involved in the project through their placements.
Many will progress into third year at RGU in the next academic year and their involvement strengthens the successful articulation links between the two organisations.
Graeme Dale, Senior Development Manager, Active Schools at Sport Aberdeen, said: “We work very closely with the students during their placements around the city to deliver training to pupils so they can experience and enjoy a range of sports.
“The Aberdeen Youth Games is a very successful programme which provides a range of benefits for children by combining education and physical activity and enhances the impact of the Active Schools programme."
Caitlin O'CallaghanCommunications Office Placement Student