Nahida Begum - 2010/2011 East of England Regional Finalist

Nahida had always been an excellent student, with impeccable behaviour, but she lacked the confidence to push herself to achieve her full potential.  She was selected by Bedford Academy to be part of a group of Year 10 girls taking part in Sky Sports Living for Sport.

The aim of the school’s project was to increase participants’ attainment and achievement, and improve their confidence in their own abilities. All the pupils who took part had potential, but either had problems socially or with their behaviour, which held them back.

The six-week project was designed around American Football as it is  the ultimate team sport. The school felt it was also important to get the girls out of their comfort zone and train them to the same skill level in a new sport. Through practise and hard work in training sessions the girls’ confidence soared and they even challenged their fellow male pupils to a tag American Football match. Although the girls narrowly lost the match, it demonstrated to them what they really could achieve when they worked together as a team. Nahida in particular had grown into an assertive team leader, putting herself at the forefront of every session and game.

Mike Mullen, former BMX World Champion, was the Athlete Mentor for Bedford Academy’s Sky Sports Living for Sport project. When he visited the school to give the girls guidance, motivation and a lesson on BMX bikes, it emerged that Nahida had never learnt to ride a bike. Nahida asked Mike herself if he would teach her and within an hour she was riding a bike for the first time in her life.

Through the project Nahida has learnt important life skills which she will be able to teach others. She has now represented the school in several different sporting teams, including the cricket team, which went on to win the district cricket league. Nahida has come out of her shell, emerging with new found confidence to achieve her true potential in all aspects of life.

Michael Cox, School Sports Co-ordinator at Bedford Academy, said: “Nahida greatly lacked self-confidence before taking part in Sky Sports Living for Sport and would not push herself to achieve what she was capable of. However, through completing the project she has gained confidence beyond what we expected, going on to represent the school in several different sporting events. She continues to be a model student and is pushing towards her life goal of becoming a psychologist."