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03 Feb 2022 88
Supporting Specific Needs

Mental Health: Anna's Story

Sport has made my life and saved my life

When I say that sport has saved my life, I am being serious.

There have been times when my mental health was so bad that I did not know how I was going to make it to the next minute, hour or day, but one of the biggest things that has got me through those times is sport.

From my early years playing hockey and tennis, through to developing chronic knee problems and discovering Wheelchair Basketball, sport has always been an important part of my life.

It was only when I really started to struggle with my mental health that I realised how important it was. Sport had always been something I loved but I realised that it was more than that – it was somewhere I fit in, was accepted and it helped me find a sense of identity.

As a player with the GB Women's Team, I competed all round the world. At World and European Championships and at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.

I still can't believe I did those things and I have my first GB vest and my Sydney vest hanging on the wall of my home office to remind me that sport has given me some amazing experiences. If I'm struggling, I just need to look at them and take time to remember what my career has brought me so far to help me feel better.

I am now Head Coach and Chairperson at Cheshire Phoenix Wheelchair Basketball Club and as well as coaching and mentoring new coaches, I still play as often as I can.

Even though I get so much from coaching and seeing other people develop, I still love to play. I feel so free when I am whizzing round the court and getting my heart rate up, my muscles working and having fun with my teammates. That and going to the gym are so important for my mental health.

I am really honoured to be a UK Coaching Ambassador and be able to inspire others to get into coaching. But more importantly, I encourage all coaches to think about not only their players' mental health but their own mental health - we need to look after ourselves and make that top of our priorities or we will not be able to help the people we are coaching.

I am currently a trainee Counsellor, and I am really interested in working with coaches when I am qualified to support their mental health.

Sport is a place I feel accepted, and that helps me accept myself.

I am 50 this year and have learnt to accept myself as a gay, autistic person with a physical disability, ADHD, and problems with my mental health. I am me and those things are what makes me the person I am. Rather than fighting to be someone I am not, I am learning to embrace myself and the difficult times that have impacted my mental health.

Sport is so important in my life and always will be, I have no plans yet to hang up my wheels!

Mental Health Awareness for Sport and Physical Activity

Gain the confidence to support people living with mental health problems to feel comfortable and capable of engaging in sport and physical activity by completing our online course, developed in partnership with Mind

Learn More

UK Coaching Duty to Care Digital Badge

Earn our free nationally recognised Digital Badge by demonstrating your thorough knowledge of the five pillars of Duty to Care (Safeguarding, Diversity, Inclusion, Mental Health, Well-being)

Find out more

Related Resources

  • Wheelchair Basketball Changed Her Life, Now Anna is Changing the Lives of Others

  • Clarke Carlisle: Coaches have a Duty of Care to Look Out for their Participants’ Mental Health

  • The Coach who Saved my Life


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