Success at sea by Georgie Buckley
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
Georgie, a trainee stand-up-paddleboarding instructor tells us about their sporting journey and how they discovered their new favourite sport through Trans Can Sport.
My love of physical activity goes back as far as I can remember. Growing up on a farm, I was a very energetic child and much preferred running around outside and climbing trees to playing quietly indoors. I have a brother two years younger than me and we both spent many happy hours tearing about on our bikes and exploring the countryside together.
It was only when I started primary school that I discovered that there were different expectations for boys and girls when it came to exercise. Whilst we were all taught together for our classroom based learning, when it was time for P.E. lessons, boys would head off to play football whilst girls were taught ballet. This was an immediate source of distress for my five year old self, as I hated the uncomfortable leotards and ballet pumps, plus most of my friends were boys so I wanted to be out playing football instead. I expressed to my mum how I felt and she was very supportive; after a proactive chat to the teachers about my unhappiness, I was allowed to swap the ballet hall for the football pitch! I was delighted with this turn of events and spent the next contented few years playing football with the boys, gaining confidence and making friends.
Starting at an all-girls secondary school, I sensed history repeating itself as I discovered football was not taught since it was considered a male sport. Despite my disappointment I threw myself into hockey, rounders, netball and athletics as sport provided a source of confidence for me and I naturally gravitated towards it in favour of wrestling with maths and physics!
On arriving at university I immediately joined the women’s football team, brushing up on those rusty skills that I hadn’t used since primary school. However during my university years I struggled with the academic pressures of higher education, and unfortunately sport fell by the wayside for the first half of my twenties.
After graduation I moved down to Brighton. I didn’t know anyone at the time so I thought a team sport would be a good way to meet new people, as well as a means of improving my fitness. I did a quick Google search and came across The Honeybees Hockey Club, (a Brighton-based, mainly LGBTQ team) and I headed off to my first training session the following week. This was by far the best experience of competitive sport I have had, and they really showed me all the emotional, spiritual and physical benefits that can be gained through being a member of a team. When I came out as non-binary everyone was amazingly supportive and I have made some of my best friends along the way.
During my time in Brighton I have also taken kickboxing classes at Kicks Martial Arts club, which enabled me to build confidence as well as progress through the grading system to achieve my orange belt. Kickboxing was also my first adult experience of participating in a sporting environment that was not women-only, and I immediately enjoyed the different atmosphere of mixed classes. Despite so many positive and supportive experiences, it is still hard trying to navigate the world of sport as a non-binary person, since so many activities are rigidly segregated by sex, and when you fall between the binary parameters it can often be hard to see where you fit in (especially when it comes to toilets/changing facilities).
When Trans Can Sport came to my attention, I was instantly keen to get involved since I recognised the importance and potential for such an organisation. It has been an amazing opportunity to try out different activities that I wouldn’t ever have thought to try! Attending a new sports club can be daunting, but doing it with TCS completely changed that, and gave me the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone in the knowledge that my gender-identity didn’t have to be a barrier. I have taken part in kickboxing, yoga, softball, running, swimming, kayaking, wake-boarding, weight-lifting, sailing and stand-up-paddleboarding. Every session I have taken part in with TCS has been fun and engaging, and there is no pressure to return if you try out an activity and realise it’s not for you.
I knew I liked paddleboarding straight away after a TCS introductory session at Hove Lagoon last summer; after that first lesson it was not long before I was hiring boards locally and heading out in other locations. I decided to buy my own inflatable paddleboard after only a few months and it has made me appreciate living by the sea on a whole new level. As well as providing a full-body workout and building core strength, paddleboarding gives me the opportunity to find calm and relaxation out on the sea, or on a quiet river or lake. The versatility of paddleboarding means I can race, tour, practice yoga or surf, and recently took a canine friend on board with me for the world-record attempt for the most dogs on paddleboards, as part of Paddle Round the Pier!
I am now taking my passion for the sport a step further, and am in the process of completing my teaching qualification to become a stand up paddleboarding instructor. So if you fancy giving it a go and want to learn the basics then please give me a shout!
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