Case study

Youth sport officer — Harriet

Discover how Harriet’s positive approach to physical activity and her enthusiasm when meeting new people has helped her forge a successful career in sport development

How did you get your job?

Following my sport science and coaching degree I was fortunate enough to secure a role as the Middlesex netball development officer for England Netball. The role involved developing netball in the county and working with local partners to increase both the quantity and quality of provision.

After a year in post, I saw my current role - a youth sport officer at Oxfordshire Sport and Physical Activity - advertised and decided to go for it. I had to complete an application form and was then invited to attend an interview day, which included a presentation, written task and interview questions.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My degree included modules on sports development therefore I was aware of organisations such as Sport England, National Governing Bodies (NGB’s) and County Sports Partnerships and their involvement in sport and physical activity.

I believe it was not just my degree but also the extra involvement in university sports teams and the volunteering and coaching I did throughout my time studying that helped me further understand the sports development environment.

What are you main work activities?

Most days involve office-based work or meetings with partners, particularly focusing on the project management of the Oxfordshire School Games. I am fortunate enough to coordinate the Oxfordshire School Games County Finals and support our school games organisers at some of their competitions; I still really enjoy being able to get out in the field.

I also support the youth sport funding initiatives rolled out in Oxfordshire such as Sportivate and Satellite Clubs.

How has your role developed?

In the 15 months I have been in post, I have been able to develop the Oxfordshire School Games to not only include sports competition, but also training opportunities for our sports leaders, festivals for primary schools and experience days for some of the county finalists.

This year we are holding an ‘On the Water’ day in partnership with a local club for the Indoor Rowing finalists with the aim of improving the link between school sport competition and club involvement.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I feel proud to work in an environment that has a very positive impact on a large number of people. I sit within a passionate team that works hard to provide as many opportunities as we can to such a range of individuals, from the inactive to those that love sport and physical activity.

I also enjoy meeting lots of people from a variety of organisations.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

As someone that has a positive relationship with sport it can sometimes be a challenge to fully understand why others do not feel the same.

This challenge is what makes sports development so important; the more I can understand other peoples’ motivations the better equipped I am to be able to offer the right opportunities.

What are the best things about working in this sector?

Seeing people enjoy sport and physical activity, particularly those that perhaps never thought they would.

What advice would you give to others who would like to get into sport development?

Ask questions, get as much experience as possible and be determined.

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