It’s half time for Liam and Emma’s youth sports challenge

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Two East Dunbartonshire pupils are celebrating the half-way mark of their role in developing sport as part of the young people’s sport panel.

Liam Luporini, (16), a pupil at Turnbull High, and Emma Mahon (16), who attends Lenzie Academy, celebrated the milestone along with fellow panel members at a special residential visit to the new sportscotland National Sports Training Centre Inverclyde in Largs.

It recently opened its doors to the public following a major £12 million redevelopment funded by Scottish Government and sportscotland, the national agency for sport.

Established by sportscotland, supported by Young Scot, the panel is a national platform to represent a voice of young people across the country.

Liam, Emma and the 13 other panel members were selected from over 180 applicants across a five month rigorous recruitment process to be part of the team that helps to influence and shape the future of sport in Scotland.

The panel is currently in its third two-year cycle and Liam and Emma are already said to have made great strides in ensuring the voice of young people is part of the sporting conversation across Scotland.

Both Liam and Emma were introduced to Public Health and Sport Minister, Aileen Campbell, at the Scottish Parliament at the start of their sporting journey with sportscotland.

The panel took part in a Q&A session with Ms Campbell, discussing how to raise the profile of sport among young people across the country.

They were also part of Scotland’s homecoming event to mark the success of the Scots on Team GB and ParalympicsGB at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio.

Commencing at Oriam, Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre, Liam and Emma assisted the athletes as they took part in sporting events with school children across the country.

Liam said: “To sum up the journey of the first year of the sport panel I would say – amazing. I love working with like-minded people and we are all so passionate about improving sport in Scotland for other young people.”

Emma said: “My first year on the sport panel has been fantastic and I have met so many inspirational people. I love using my passion to create a difference on a national scale.

“I feel so lucky to be a part of this great team.”

With 2018 designated The Year of Young People, Liam, Emma and the panel are said to be even more determined to make sure young people across Scotland have the chance to get their voices heard at a local and national level.

The residential provided an opportunity for the panel to finalise the various projects they will undertake over the next year, discussing the ways in which they will continue to use their roles to influence and shape the future of sport, while raising the overall profile of sport in Scotland.

One way Liam, Emma and the panel are keen to achieve this is by creating a toolkit outlining how other sporting organisations can replicate their own version of the Young people’s sport panel to ensure young people have an ever stronger voice in decision making.

Regarded as the ‘blueprint’ of young people’s panels, sportscotland has been approached by Scottish Disability Sport, Scottish Rugby, Scottish Hockey and South Lanarkshire who have since created their own groups with support from sportscotland after being inspired by the Young people’s sport panel’s progress.

The panel are also keen to host various leadership conferences across the country next year as well as continuing to challenge key influencers at a senior level in Scottish sport.

Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland said: “I am always impressed by the commitment and passion for sport these young people have. They‘ve already made a real impact both at a local and national level, and have some really topical campaigns planned for 2018’s Year of The Young People.

“Both Liam and Emma have shown themselves to be true leaders in sport and is part of a really inspiring group who I’m sure will have a positive influence on sport in this country over the next year.”

Louise Macdonald, chief executive of Young Scot, said: “Liam, Emma and the rest of Young people’s sport panel have brought a huge amount of enthusiasm and commitment to their roles.

“We’ve all been greatly impressed by their ability to rise to the challenge and their passion to make Scotland a more active nation for all young people.”

The Young people’s sport panel will begin recruiting for the 2018/20 members in January 2018. For more information visit https://sportscotland.org.uk/sportpanel or follow #sportpanel on Twitter for more information.