The Arsenal Foundation has helped the Mossbourne Federation buy a new rowing boat for its pupils. Danny Shaw, 18, from Hackney, but now living in halls of residence in Waterloo, tells us how it helped his training and more…
“I’ve been within the Mossbourne Federation for seven years, through secondary school and sixth-form. My time in school was stressful for me due to the volume of work and the high expectations. I would say without hesitation that rowing got me through it.
“I signed up as a laugh with my mates one lunchtime in year 9, when I was 14. I’ve always loved sports and at the time I was playing rugby, swimming competitively and running. Rowing was quite unstructured at first. We would undo our top buttons, take our ties off and go on rowing machines for 15 minutes at lunchtime. We did this twice a week until we got some proper training after school. By the end of year 9 I was doing three water and two land sessions a week.
“I started competing that same year but it was disappointing at first. I always just missed out on medals – in fact, I didn’t win my first race until I was 17. I think part of me was always chasing a win.
“The facilities at Mossbourne are great: rowing machines, weights room, a sports hall and a courtyard, all on site. Although not state of the art, the equipment during my time there was enough to make me into a higher-level athlete. One bottleneck, however, was the quality of boats.
“With help from The Arsenal Foundation – and a few donations from parents – we were able to buy a new boat, and it made a huge difference. Called ‘No Excuses’, it was raced for the first time at the prestigious Schools Head of the River earlier this year, and the juniors won. They even made it into The Times. This was massively important for morale and motivation because it demonstrated that the perceived status of private schools over state schools is exactly that – perceived. In a sport where mental toughness and confidence in your own ability can decide which crew wins, that’s invaluable.
“I’m now at university studying biomedical engineering, and in terms of rowing I aim to make it into the GB rowing team and compete at a national level. Maybe one day I’ll become a coach and give back to the sport in the way that my coaches have.
“Aside from fitness, I’ve made strong friendships and I’ve learned how to be mentally and physically resilient, competitive and confident, level-headed and calm under stress. You have to be gracious when you lose and sporting when you win. All of these qualities are essential on the water and carry over to a successful life.
“I do think that in a time where football clubs are worth incredible amounts of money, communities benefit immeasurably when such organisations invest and give back to the local people. Even the smallest gesture can go such a long way.”
For more info visit mossbourne.org
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