Finsbury Park youngster aims to inspire girls into softball
- Credit: Archant
Finsbury Park softball player Rose Bhanji wants to break down the perception of her sport as male-dominated by inspiring young girls to follow in her footsteps.
The 17-year-old first decided to take up baseball when she was 13, after becoming fed up of watching her brother play, before she was approached about joining a new softball team.
She has since represented GB Cadette (U16) Girls' Fastpitch Team in the 2017 European Championships, before being selected for the U18 women's team earlier this year.
And while the LaSwap Sixth Form student admits it is not easy balancing her school work with sport, she remains driven by the example she wants to set to other young girls.
"I want to continue with softball and also keep playing baseball because it's so male-dominated, I want to bring a female presence in the sport and encourage young females," she said.
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"When I was six I had no idea what either baseball or softball were so I want to help introduce more young girls to the sport and keep playing for Britain.
"I want to play in the European Championships and while it is in the Olympics, it's only in the back of my mind as right now I'm just thinking about Europe.
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"I think that is going to bring a lot of visibility to baseball and softball as well in this country, so that will be interesting to see it in the UK and the reaction it gets.
"It's really important to me to encourage more girls to take up the sport. As a girl, you have so many people saying don't get dirty, don't get sweaty, your hair will look ugly.
"It's so important to be able to do these things and be able to get in the mud, run in the dirt and be an aggressive power hungry woman, we need to show we can succeed."
Bhanji was speaking at a SportsAid workshop being hosted by the Mayor of London's office, which is supporting over 75 athletes from in and around the London region, at the London Stadium.
SportsAid helps the most promising young British athletes by providing them with financial support, recognition and personal development opportunities.
The haul of up-and-coming athletes, covering all the London boroughs, from more than 30 sports are receiving £1,000 awards to help with their training and competition costs as they bid to become the country's next generation of sporting heroes.
The awards, distributed through SportsAid, will see athletes recognise their position as role models to others, and how their stories may help to increase community pride and engagement through inspiring people to take part in sport and physical activity.
SportsAid alumni Anthony Ogogo, Goldie Sayers and Leon Taylor, as well as Commonwealth gold medallist Ama Agbeze, were all on hand at the workshop to provide advice to the athletes.
And Sayers, an Olympic bronze medalist, said: "I was a recipient of the SportsAid award probably 20 years ago now and I kept the letter because it meant so much to me at the time.
"It's the first recognition that people have seen what you've achieved and are supporting you along the way, so for me I like to give back to organisations that helped me in my career.
"The financial support is important but I think more than that, it's just knowing that an organisation had recognised you as a young athlete with potential to be a senior international."
*The Mayor of London is working with SportsAid to provide financial support and personal development opportunities to talented young athletes from across the capital. Visit london.gov.uk/what-we-do/sports/sport-unites/sportsaid to find out more.