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School Talk

Taking Opportunities

Published 24th February 2023

On Thursday evening, our Tennis Coach Mr Costa provided a very informative and enjoyable talk on “taking opportunities”, following on from Mrs Rastall's discussion in assembly on Monday morning.

Mr Costa discussed his fascinating pathway through tennis playing and coaching, learning from some incredible players and meeting world-class athletes and organisations along the way. We heard about coaches and academies he has learnt from, including Toni Nadal - yes, Rafa Nadal's uncle and ATP coach, Gill Lemore - Director of Nike Tennis, and Steve McLoughlin - LTA Tutor.

Mr Costa also spoke about training and playing with world-class professionals, demonstrating the career pathway and the success rate of those who make it to the top of the world stage.

The power of networking was evidently shown, enabling some wonderful opportunities - from Yorkshire Tennis to Dunlop sponsorship, and Nike to Wimbledon undertaking statistical analysis for the very best.

Mr Gough highlighted that these fabulous opportunities are possible for all, and that first impressions do really count. It was touching to see Mr Costa acknowledge that working here at QM alongside the wonderful Mrs Mitchell was another opportunity on his Tennis coaching journey (image below!).

Taking Opportunities

During assembly on Monday, Mrs Rastall spoke about taking opportunities here at school and making the most of what is on offer for each and every girl.

"There is a wonderful array of opportunities for all, and girls must make the most of it - not just the sports and physical wellbeing activities, but also the academic clubs, environmental council, music, drama, and so much more. Go and explore what is on offer. Far too many Old Margaretians, when they return to visit school, mention how they wish they had the same opportunities (at uni) or the fact they didn't do enough while here at QM.

There are sporting activities on offer each and every day during the enrichment slot after school, but also during lunchtime. There are also a number of early morning sessions for the early riser."

Taking the opportunities and being inspired by others to achieve something was also discussed. Although a male role model, English Rugby Coach Kevin Sinfield has been an inspiration to Mrs Rastall as he continues to campaign through amazing challenges to raise awareness for Motor Neuron Disease - a charity he has proudly championed to support his best mate Rob Burrow over the past three years.

Kevin’s journey began in 2020, when he ‘just went for a run for a mate’, to support MND charities and raise awareness of people living with the disease.

Challenge 1 - he started by running seven marathons in seven consecutive days in honour of Rob, who wore the number seven shirt for Leeds, but continued to push himself through more physical challenges over the past couple of years.

Challenge 2 - running 101 miles in 24 hours from Lecister (his then workplace) to Leeds Rhinos Headingley stadium. “It was really tough at times, especially the end, but it’s down to my little mate here.” (Sinfield)

Challenge 3 - in November 2022, inspired by Rob Burrow, the late Doddie Weir, Stephen Darby, and other people living with MND; Kevin ran from Edinburgh to Manchester via Melrose, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, York, Leeds and Bradford in seven days, running over 60km per day. The challenge finished at Old Trafford at halftime in the Rugby League World Cup men’s final.

The message of Mrs Rastall's presentation was to reinforce that it does not matter who you are - whether you are sporty or not, famous, or just in your own eyes the individual who turns up to school - you can do something no matter how small to change something positively in your own life or to help and inspire others.

It is not just for the “athletic individual”, but for all and it gives a great amount of self-satisfaction to achieve a goal no matter how small while providing a positive outlook on life. Something that is extremely important.

The presentation was concluded with a powerful clip from the BBC documentary Going the Extra Mile to demonstrate the power of sport and the friendship it can bring.

The full documentary can be viewed at:

If you have a ‘why’ or a cause you can do anything you want.

“That shows the power of sport.”

(Kevin Sinfield)