Without sport, Nalette Tucker may not have been featured in our campaign to encourage more women into roles of coaching.
And it’s not simply because she is probably one of the most qualified coaches in Bradford. Her coaching CV lists rugby, boxing, fencing, archery, football, tennis, and many more.
It’s because, as she tells us, “Sport in general is a huge factor in why I’m alive today.”
“It was the only thing that kept me going as a kid. I thought that if I could do that and give someone else that feeling, it was definitely worth my time.”
It’s for that reason that the 29-year old has made a 13-year career out of being a sports coach.
After a difficult childhood, Nalette moved north to live with her grandparents in Bradford. An injury playing sport in school meant the PE teachers had to find new ways to satisfy her enthusiasm.
Once the footballs were pumped up and the store cupboard had been tidied – again and again – the teachers gave her the opportunity to coach the year seven netball team. Since then, she’s not looked back.
“I did a sport specific course at Bradford College, and between 2006 and 2008, and at the same time I could do any sports course I wanted for free, because I was under 18. My CV is huge – pretty much any sport you can think of, I’m qualified in.”
Nalette created Sunnah Sports Academy Trust in 2014, and currently coaches seven days a week at the community centre as well as in schools.
But it’s not always been plain sailing. She’s been a woman in a traditionally male dominated world, and having converted to Islam, she has also had to contend with some the challenges that presents when it comes to being involved in sport.
“I went on a lot of male dominated courses,” she explains. “It never used to bother me, but within my religion I have to cover a certain amount if I’m with men. I did my cricket level two in a head scarf and an abaya (long gown). It’s hard to do that, and I think that puts off a lot of women.
“For people who follow Islam, we can’t have physical contact with every male. So ice breakers that start with handshakes, just aren’t possible.
“I’ve known of people whose parents won’t let them go on any mixed courses. They want to be in this industry but they’re never going to be able to qualify.”
The solution, Nalette believes, can be a simple one.
“There’s so many opportunities with female coaches already in the industry, to get them trained and run female-only courses. Some of the time, women in South Asian communities do have the money, and do want to get involved, but can’t because of the need for segregation.
“I went to Sports Leaders UK training so I could deliver levels 1-3. This year alone, we’ve put 30 teenage girls through a Level 2 in Sports Leadership; and 20 women and 10 teenage girls through a women ‘Get Set Go’ leadership course.
“That’s 60 women who are entering into the coaching world and provide opportunities because we were able to deliver a women only course for them. It’s something that is so easily overcome.
“I can say, over the last five years, I’ve put over 1,000 people through an archery induction course alone not including all the other sports we offer. Women in locations across West Yorkshire can now do archery to a good level because we have given them an opportunity. They wouldn’t do it anywhere else because it’s not segregated, safe or trusted. That is my motivation. If nobody else does it, these women would have no other opportunity.”
Nalette’s story is undoubtedly an inspirational one, but what would she say to women unsure if getting into coaching sport or putting on activity sessions is for them?
“Think about what sport gives you, and what you get out of it. You have the ability to give that to someone else! It makes you feel fantastic being able to do that. Sometimes it’s only a woman that can do it – be that woman – if you don’t get up and do it, nobody else will get up and do it.”