For many people, sport is a huge part of their life, but for many others it’s something that is enjoyed as a youngster but then slowly gets pushed from life in favour of socialising, career progression or family commitments. Laura Riley, Amy Lambert and Chloe Bougourd tell us how and why they got involved in sports.
Laura Riley, Jersey Sport’s Cycle Training and School Events Officer, has been passionate about football since she was 13 years old.
“I started playing football in the Ladies’ Football League when I was 13 years old. I played for St John’s Club for over 14 years, before moving to St Lawrence Football Club in 2015. It’s a great way to have fun, keep healthy and meet new people. Some of my team-mates are my best friends.”
During this period, Laura also played for the Jersey Ladies’ Football Team on numerous occasions, in Murattis, Island Games and other UK matches. “This was a great honour, but it’s safe to say I leave that to the youngsters now!”
Laura got into football coaching when she was 16, working as a volunteer coach for school football teams, and from there she worked towards football coaching qualifications, before joining the Girls’ Centre of Excellence Coaching Team, where she spent over 8 years.
“I absolutely loved my time at the Centre of Excellence, watching the girls develop and progress so quickly into fantastic players. Many of the girls are now playing in the Ladies’ Leagues which is great for Jersey Ladies’ Football.”
Laura also moved to the USA on two separate occasions for a year to coach football.
“It was an amazing experience and something I feel I learnt so much from. It gave me the opportunity to grow and develop in a completely different environment and I feel the experience really made me into the coach I am today.”
Amy Lambert, born and raised in France, has always had an interest in sports. Growing up in the country allowed Amy to enjoy more relaxed sports, including golf and horse riding.
At the age of 15, Amy attended boarding school in a local town, so she needed to find a new sport that fit in with the lifestyle. Having always enjoyed watching rugby with her family, Amy decided to join the school team. Upon graduating high school, Amy moved to the Netherlands to attend Maastricht University. She continued her love of rugby, playing for the town’s team for three years before moving to Jersey in 2019 and joining the Jersey Reds Women.
“We haven’t been able to play a game since March last year. We’re the only female team on the island, so all of our away games are in the UK. We did start training again in September, even though we haven’t been able to do any of the contact aspects of the sport as we were following guidelines, but we were still able to throw the ball around and practice skills.”
Thanks to the continued platinum sponsorship of Rossborough Insurance, Jersey Reds Women can continue developing and ensuring equality in women’s rugby.
Rugby, in particular, has a stigma for being a more ‘manly’ sport due to the contact involved, but Amy says everybody is welcome to join the team. “It doesn’t matter how old or how fit you are, whether you are a beginner or a more advanced player, everybody is welcome to join.
“I love being part of a team. We have teachers, nurses, mothers - it’s really important to have that mixed group, you learn about yourself being around people from different backgrounds. It’s so mentally important to have a strong group of women around you. It isn’t even just in rugby; outside of the sport, these women are there for you. It’s an excellent team. I want to encourage other women to get out there and try something new.”
Chloe was born in Jersey and enjoyed participating in school sports and gymnastics. When Chloe left school, she went to America for a year, where she taught gymnastics at a summer school. Upon returning to Jersey, she continued to teach gymnastics to all age groups, from pre-school right up to Jersey’s elite squads.
During lockdown, Chloe says she really fell in love with cycling. “My parents have always cycled, holidays are bike-related, and we would go out when we were younger on our bikes as a family. As I got older, I lost interest, but my parents continued to try and get me involved! Over lockdown, I started cycling and came to really love it.”
In September 2020, Chloe joined Jersey Sport’s Cycle Without Limits centre as a Cycling Officer where part of her job involves working at the CWL centre as well as school sessions.
CWL enables people of all abilities to enjoy riding a cycle. “We have adapted cycles that are suitable for all abilities, including those with injuries and people who can’t access a regular bike. We haven’t had a person that we couldn’t cater for yet. Side-by-side passenger cycles allow the user to peddle (the bikes have a motor, so it isn’t as strenuous) but not worry about the steering as another user operates that. There are also hand cycles for those with leg difficulties and cycles with plates that allow wheelchair users to be cycled around."
At the school sessions, Chloe teaches children to ride a bike. “There are a surprising number of children who have never ridden before, or don’t know how to ride a bike, so we go into schools and teach them during after-school clubs or P.E lessons. As part of the Bikeability Level 1, we teach them the fundamentals of riding – turning, controlling the bike, taking their hands off, looking behind them and learning about priorities. We then move onto level 2, which teaches children how to ride on the road safely.”
Away from work, Chloe says that keeping active plays a huge role in her mental health. “It’s so important for people to keep active. I always feel better when I’m cycling and benefit from improved fitness. You also have the social aspect when you participate in group activities or can enjoy keeping fit with friends.”