The benefits of playing sport - Stephen's story

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Stephen (name has been changed) is a teenager from Northern Ireland who is part of The Fostering Network’s Fostering Achievement programme. Fostering Achievement has supported Stephen for a numbers of years and in this blog he tells you about his sporting achievements and his ambitions for the future.

I only became interested in sport after coming into foster care. I started playing football when I was around eight or nine for my Boys Brigade side and moved to a better side after they spotted me when I was playing against them. I really enjoyed it and I also found that I was good at it so I wanted to get involved with more sports. I started playing volleyball and athletics when I was 11 and most recently, when I moved into junior high, I began playing hockey.

My foster carers helped introduce me to sports and I think my own determination has enabled me to continue with them. I have also had a lot of support from Fostering Achievement; they have provided me with equipment such as a hockey stick, goalkeeping gloves, football boots and volleyball shoes.

Fun, social and healthy

There are so many benefits to playing sport. Since I started I have made a lot of new friends and it has given me a healthy lifestyle. If I’m stressed I enjoy being able to go out to play sport or do athletics because it takes my mind off things. It also keeps me away from doing other activities which might not be as positive.

Last year I performed really well in the all-Ireland high jump competition and I’m currently top in the trials for this year’s district competitions in high jump. I am also competing in the 100m, 800m and long jump. My goal this year is to qualify for the all-Ireland competition and do better than last year. I would love to become a professional athlete but it’s difficult to practise - the closest place for me, as far as I know, is 20 miles away so I don’t go as regularly as I would like to.

I am currently studying sports for GCSE and hoping to go on to do coaching or personal training in the future.

I would advise any young people reading this to get involved in a hobby or a sport because it can lead on to other things which you might enjoy more but do not yet know about.

Of those young people in receipt of tuition from Fostering Achievement and taking GCSEs in 2014, almost twice as many gained five or more A*-C grades compared to the general looked after child population. 100 per cent of our young people got at least one GCSE, the same as for all children in the general population. For more information about Fostering Achievement visit our website.