My first opportunity to try watersports was through summer holiday courses at the Wimbledon Park Watersports Centre and I’ve been hooked ever since! I loved being on the water and mucking around with the other children.
This was followed by work experience at the Centre when I was 15 years-old, I then gradually began to work my way up the career ladder. What appeals to me most about being on the water is the sense of fun and freedom that being afloat offers. I gained my Basic Paddling Teaching Skills, followed by my BCAB Paddlesport Instructor and even Instructor Tutor… and later my RYA Dinghy Instructor qualification. Since then, I have had the opportunity to become upskilled in various disciplines and have taken on more responsibility within the team.
At the Centre’s busiest times I can be managing over 30 members of staff across the different activities. Along with managing staff, as a BCAB Paddlesport Instructor Tutor, I also train potential future staff to become fully qualified instructors. Paddling and having fun on the water is what has always motivated me.
Occasionally, I still get to teach on the water which is what I really enjoy. I love motivating others, especially when they are trying something new for the first time or are a bit nervous. I am now qualified to take people of all ages from their first tentative paddle strokes, right up to becoming a fully qualified and confident instructor. It’s great to see participants enjoying the activity and gaining a sense of achievement.
In the future, I would like to see meaningful change in the sport that makes it more accessible and inclusive. While I’ve always felt valued at Wimbledon Park Watersports Centre, when I visit other venues for competitions or events, I am almost always the only Black woman, and sometimes the only non-White face. I enjoy being a part of the sailing and watersports community, but I want to see real, proactive change that goes beyond words.
I would like to encourage anyone that’s interested in giving watersports a try to just get out on the water with your mates and give it a go - it will help inspire yourself, and others, to try something new.