09 March 2020

Growing up I knew I always wanted to work in sport. An office job just isn’t in my nature, I have to be on the move. My passion for sport was something that set me aside from others – I was always the only girl playing football in the playground, sometimes on my own as the boys would never let me play with them. I knew from then I would have to prove myself to be taken seriously! Looking back on it today, why did I have to prove myself? Everyone should be included in any sport regardless of gender, ethnicity, or sexuality.

At university, I planned to leave and become a PE teacher as it had always been my career aim and focus. But even at university on a sports course, the girls were always outnumbered by the boys and we had to fight to get the same opportunities. Through my time at university, I worked in many secondary schools and there were always more male PE teachers than females. I thought to myself, if girls are not going to have a chance from the start, what is the point in trying. It really made me question, if being a PE teacher was really for me. Then out of the blue an opportunity arose for me to train as a swimming teacher.

I have worked in a couple of leisure centres across my swimming career, and the majority of teachers I have taught with have been female which has been great to see and a breath of fresh air. Working at London Youth has been no different, it is a place where I can be 100% who I want to be and that is supported by all, which I think is rare as it has not always been like that.

Teaching swimming has been so much fun because I have crossed paths and taught so many sorts of people, no two days are ever the same. But what has come to the fore front of my job especially in the last few years is it’s not just about teaching swimming anymore, it is about supporting these young people. Children are constantly comparing themselves to each other. What happened to things being fun? I’m having to coach these kids that they are their own person and who cares if they are not as fast as the boy or girl next to them? They should be doing their best for them not to compete.

It’s so important to show these young people that regardless of who they are and where they come from as long as they show respect to their peers regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexuality it proves everyone is equal and should have the same opportunities.

If everyone works towards equality for all, then it can happen but everyone has to play their part.

Heather Troth, Swim Teacher – Woodrow Swim School