Was Part of the Government’s Sport Departments Drive

The girl’s football team at the Guru Nanak Sikh Academy in Hayes, London, were honoured to meet England’s most capped international footballer and Arsenal Ladies star, Rachel Yankey OBE. As part of the sport departments drive to promote the engagement of girl’s in football as well as reward them for their commitment to training, this certainly was an experience they will cherish. 


Head of Physical Education, Dina Khilnani, commented, “when the opportunity came up to get in Rachel for the day I immediately thought of my girl’s football team! What an honour for them to meet an England and Arsenal player – an elite athlete! My main thought was being Asian, opportunities like this for the girls are rare and Rachel will be an inspiration to them”.


Inspiring the next generation is a priority for Yankey. In addition to playing, she runs the ‘Rachel Yankey Football Programme’, which provides coaching sessions in local schools. More recently she has launched an education initiative with former deputy headteacher turned coach, Manisha Tailor, titled the ‘Elite Athlete Experience Day’. The workshop is based on the concept of holistic player development and nurturing life-long learners. Young people gain awareness of skills that they can translate into their everyday lives through: decision-making, teamwork, reasoning and reflection.


The media package is curriculum specific to media literacy and introduced young people to knowledge and skills they would need as a journalist. As well as deducing information and analysing reports, they took on the role of young reporters in interviewing an elite athlete.


“I have learnt new things that will be useful in further life. The morning education workshop taught me that communicating clearly is important, as well as learning about different job roes in football” (Amanpreet Rupra, 14).


“It was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about female football and about a footballers life. Rachel has shown us how you can build on your current skills to really be the best” (Amrit Dhillon, 13).


The workshop placed much emphasis on being resourceful and resilient in solving problems, furthermore, discussing qualities that make a good leader beyond just the game of football.


“I now know how to be a better leader. I have always been quite stubborn. But by listening to others, especially through our group activity, I have understood that listening to others enables you to become a better communicator. We should treat members of our team as family” (Simran Chahal, 16).


During the afternoon session the Arsenal Ladies star put the girl’s through their paces through a series of fun and active coaching sessions. 


“The coaching session was great; we covered lots of different techniques and how we can use these skills in a match. I stopped playing football but am now inspired to take it up again!” (Harpreet Heer, 16).


“This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I wish we were able to play football for longer – time flew by very quickly!” (Esha Rudki, 12).


Yankey praised how the girl’s developed through the day and commented on the importance of using positive role models. “Very positive as they are all female and can relate to the fact that I have played football as a role model. It is good to work with girls, but also to see how their confidence has developed through the day. They started off as quite shy, but now they are more comfortable and able to express how they feel rather than being intimidated by boys – they are definitely more at ease. Stereotypically football is not seen as a sport that is played by girls so I think we all have that in common. It’s good for them to see a female footballer and that you don’t have to always be academic. You can achieve in life, and use sport to do that”.


The ‘Elite Athlete Experience Day’ is certainly an experience the girl’s will remember, one in which they feel truly inspired. “I am inspired to take chances – you have to just go for it! Don’t let any obstacle put you down. I would say, build a ladder – leap up and just fly!” (Anmohl Singh, 16).


For further information regarding the education day please contact:

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