Young Chichester sports coach to help children in Fiji

Megan playing as captain in a Luffa v Chichester match last year 7uNKB4kubrAXZ9DNdbfX
Megan playing as captain in a Luffa v Chichester match last year 7uNKB4kubrAXZ9DNdbfX

SPORTS mad teenager Megan Cliff has faced a setback in her personal ambitions following a knee injury.

But she is still determined to help others and is planning a trip to Fiji in the summer to coach underprivileged children in a variety of sports.

Megan Cliff in her Fiji expedition shirt and donated kit, ready to go at 7am for a coaching session

Megan Cliff in her Fiji expedition shirt and donated kit, ready to go at 7am for a coaching session

The 18-year-old Chichester High School student knows all about hard work, having battled with severe dyslexic to achieve 11 GCSEs. She has also put a lot of time and effort into her hockey, despite an ACL injury in 2014.

She wants to use her experience to push other young people to put in their best performance and give them opportunities they would not otherwise have easily.

Megan, of Croft Mead, Chichester, coaches independently, through Chichester Hockey Club and her school.

She said: “During the summer term, I helped the PE department with athletics. I could see first hand how sport was helping the children that struggled with school and discipline.

“Athletics taught them they had to respect their actions and try their best, or they would be disappointed by their results. It’s something you cannot learn from a textbook.

“The most rewarding thing as a coach is watching an athlete progress, whether its over a two-hour session or a two-week phase, seeing them building their skill set as a performer and their knowledge as a person is priceless.”

Her plan is to take a voluntary trip to Fiji in July to spread her love of sport and motivation to schoolchildren 10,000 miles from her home.

Megan will be fully integrated into the life of the local school, working with a range of age groups for five days a week from 6am, through normal school hours and then at extra-curricular sports clubs.

“They will be long days and I know I will face many new challenges coaching in a totally different way,” she said.

“Combining the adventure of learning a new culture and my love of sport is honestly a dream come true for me.

“In the Fijian education system, physical education can often be on the back burner in relation to subjects like maths, English and science.

“Many have asked why I don’t focus on England but the sheer fact is we have a multi-million-pound sports infrastructure that has the ability to reach those who are in need of sport within the next four years.

“For Fiji to create anything close to that could take my life time. We all have time that we could give to others, I just chose to direct my time further afield.

“I understand that this isn’t a trek through the rainforest to save elephants, or a plot to banish world hunger from a third world country. I believe that every child has the right to a physical education, not just maths, English and science. Sport can teach an individual many things, including acceptance and discipline.”

The trip is partly funded through savings and her part-time job at Jack Wills. Megan also plans fundraising events in the build-up to the trip, has contacted local businesses for support and has set up a GoFundMe page, Coaching Fiji, at www.gofundme.com/LETSCOACHFIJI to help her reach the £2,100 target.

“Without the support of my parents and school, I honestly don’t think that I would be doing this,” added Megan.

“My parents tell me to always believe in myself, give 100 per cent and accept the disappointment I feel if I know I didn’t do good enough, for it was my own fault.

“My fundraising plans in school so far have been a bake sale, charity netball match and a sponsored cycle-a-thon.”

Currently in year-13 at Chichester High School, Megan Ciff is studying for A-levels in PE, psychology and drama.

She hopes to go to Cardiff Metropolitan University to study sports and exercise science.

Megan explained: “I am a member of and captain my sixth form hockey team. I decided on university only after being selected for the Durham University Sutton Trust programme to study sports at summer school, where I met some amazing people who taught me to push myself as hard as I could, both in education, my social life and with all I wanted to achieve in the future.”

Back in 2011, Megan was really struggling with academic subjects, before being identified as a severe dyslexic.

“I really struggled with the concept of being told I would never be good at specific things,” she said.

“It was during the last two years at Chichester High School for Girls that I really found my feet, with help from the old head of PE, Mrs Bryant.

“I took my sports seriously, nailed down to my studies and finished my GCSEs with two A*, four A, two B and three C grades.

“I think one of the reasons I don’t mind people knowing I’m dyslexic and have to work three times as hard as others is because it shows that not all the good things come easily.”

She said her knee injury in 2014 put her in a ‘pretty dark place’ for a few weeks and she refused to accept that for a while, her sports were over.

“Initially it was six weeks, then six months, then nine months post surgery and now I haven’t played a full match for almost two years.

“Sometimes life doesn’t go how you imagined but you have to take the best from it and make it into what you want.

“During my time out of hockey, I realised that I had the potential to improve others’ sporting achievements, even if I couldn’t improve my own any more.”

She read an article online that said children of specific areas in the world would have only a four per cent chance of reaching the equivalent of county-level sports.

“One of those was Fiji and so that was when the fire was sparked,” explained Megan.

The trip has been organised through non-profit organisation Frontier.

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