News and publications News & Blog Overcoming Challenges and Achieving Success with Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year 2018 “Alex, you are so lucky to be going to all of these incredible events and have these amazing opportunities!” Is it luck or is it sheer dogged tenacity to follow your passion and be able to take the younger generation on that pathway with you? As one of my greatest role models, Pinky Lilani says, “A person without passion is like chicken tikka masala without the sauce”. This is something that I live by day in and day out as I continue to grow the charity that I founded, Mintridge Foundation. The Mintridge Foundation is a registered charity dedicated to enhancing life skills in young people through sport. We provide a support network for young people by harnessing the power of positive sporting role models. The Mintridge Foundation assists young people of all ages, abilities and physical capabilities to develop confidence and resilience, and creates awareness of the importance of mental and physical well-being through sport. Our team of Ambassadors - Olympians, Paralympians and other professional sports stars from over 20 sports, both team and individual - work with young people in schools, clubs and academies across the UK. Starting with visits including assemblies, coaching clinics and classroom sessions tailored to each organisation’s requirements, our ambassadors can then provide one- on- one remote mentoring in a safeguarded environment, delivered via technology such as Skype and Playwaze to build a lasting legacy for individuals. The Mintridge Foundation’s successes demonstrate the incredible power of sport; from a mentee’s selection to represent Great Britain in their chosen field to enabling disabled children to find confidence and happiness just through participation. Understanding life after sport, we also support our Ambassadors in their transition from active sport to the next stage of their careers. Some of our fantastic programmes can be viewed on our YouTube channel. Mintridge in Numbers: Mintridge Programmes: 164 Students Impacted: 40,452 Student Mentees: 76 In 1997, aged 6, I picked up a hockey stick, fell in love with the game and fell in love with sport. I immediately made my goal to play for England. “Alex the hockey player” was my identity. In November 2006, following U16 England trials, I didn’t make the squad and in turn suffered incredible lows, injuries and depression. My biggest love of all had become my worst enemy. I founded Mintridge at the age of 24, determined to use my own personal experiences (both positive and negative) in the sporting world to empower the younger generation. My vision was to achieve this through sporting role models. My paths and dreams have changed considerably but it has allowed me to take others with me. “Find something that is more important than you and devote your life to it.'' Pinky Lilani CBE DL I firmly believe that my recent success at the Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards is down to my passion and tenacity that I spoke of earlier in my blog, nothing else. I have relentlessly “made a noise” which has now generated national awareness for the good of the charity (and how can I forget the glitzy award ceremony alongside the likes of Jessica Ennis – Hill and Dina Asher – Smith). The kindness of others surrounding the award has overwhelmed me hugely. Those closest to me that have gone above and beyond to share my news, the kindness of strangers that have taken the time to share with me the impact that my story has had on them and the kindness of friends that I haven’t seen for years that have gone above and beyond a standard “Facebook share” and explain to their own communities just why they have voted for me. Surrounding yourself with warmth and kindness is integral in whatever path you choose to pursue. Those that you surround yourself with must invest in your vision and interests. Your support network is vital to your success and I will always be indebted to my parents, brother and boyfriend for allowing me to be truly me and be able to know the answer to something that I ask our students all the time: “What does success mean to you?'' Success means different things to different people, and to me, it is the realisation that it is ok to follow a different path to your peers and your small acts will have a huge impact. Success to me is a parent emailing to say that her daughter has been selected for the county netball team following rejection on two occasions which her mother attributes to the resilience and motivation learnt through a Mintridge mentoring programme. That is true success for me and exactly why Mintridge began. As the Head of our Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II has said: “We sometimes think that the world’s problems are so big that we can do little to help. On our own, we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice, but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine.” The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Royal Commonwealth Society. ABOUT THE AUTHOR - ALEX PASKE Alex is an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society and the Founder of the Mintridge Foundation. Established in 2015, Mintridge has worked with over 40,000 young people. Alex was awarded the Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Grassroots Award in 2018 and the Women of the Future Sport Award in 2017.