Megan Briggs, Senior Solicitor, Burness Paull LLP
Generally when I write it’s on the topics of Intellectual Property and technology, in keeping with the day job. However, before the legal world was even on the horizon my passion was for that sport with a small white ball and metal stick. In fact, my experiences of competing and playing for Scotland at golf shaped my personality and the way I interact with my colleagues and practice law.
I was fortunate enough to play in some amazing Scottish teams and under some fantastic captains, amassing Home International wins, a European Team bronze medal and individually becoming Scottish Ladies Champion. Today I no longer compete at that level, but keep a handicap of +1 and firmly believe that having those experiences has helped me progress, tackle University and the working world (I don’t just mean being invited to golf matches with clients, although that is a perk).
Recently I had cause to reflect on my sporting past, when I was honoured to Captain the Scottish Girls Under 18 team in the Home International Matches at Downfield Golf Club near Dundee. This included the stark realisation that I had just turned 30 and one of my team members was 12, so I am no longer one of the young ones!
Given my background, it has always been apparent to me how important getting girls involved in sport is. The lessons learned through sport are an amazing way to gain confidence and develop communication, time management, resiliency and social skills. It is no coincidence that, after hitting tee shots and holing putts in front of spectators, public speaking doesn’t fill me with dread, or that I became a litigation lawyer in keeping with my competitive nature.
Despite the countless benefits there remains a gap between the level of participation in sport between men and women, girls and boys. So why don’t more girls show their skills?
Research has shown that one of the main factors holding women and girls back from participating in sports is fear. Whether this be fear of not being very good, fear of looking out of place or fear of choosing to be active rather than spending time with family.
Fear is no doubt something we can all relate to, whether that be at work, in sport or family life. While I had a successful amateur sporting career, fear is certainly something I encountered and perhaps never fully won the battle with. From the daunting and self-conscious prospect of being the only girl at my golf club’s junior team matches, to throwing up before junior competitions due to the fear of underperforming. Ironically it wasn’t until I started my legal career, and was not able to compete as often, that the fear started to drift.
We all know how difficult it is to put yourself out there and not know the outcome. But had I not done so, I would never have had any of the achievements, lessons learned, disappointments or friends made. The idea of not worrying or being afraid of something before it’s happened is a phrase my Dad would consistently remind me of, and one I tried to instil in the Under 18 Scotland team.
Hopefully I managed to inspire the girls and pass on some of the knowledge I gained in encountering fear and trying to overcome it. My wish is that they play every round with freedom, uninhibited, and that this freedom follows them into their future careers and the generations that come after them. Whether they were disappointed with their result or finished triumphant, the girls will draw upon their experience in future tournaments, studies or jobs, and the fact that they met fear and waved it goodbye.
Personally I learned so much from my time as Captain, not least that we can’t let perspective come too late and that Snapchat really is the way all under 18s communicate.
So whether it’s taking up a new sport or activity, going for a new job, starting a new career or taking on a new challenge, fear is par for the course – but it is also an emotion we create ourselves.
It’s time to get out there and forget the fear.