LIVING in Scotland you will be well aware of the saying that you wait for one bus and then three arrive at the same time. It’s similar in sport this year.

We have had representation at two world-class events – the Women’s World Cup and boxer Hannah Rankin winning her World Championship fight last month – and now it is the turn of the Scottish Thistles who are off to Liverpool for the Vitality Netball World Cup.

Before they left, they held a get-together where the players were presented with their team “dresses”. This is an exciting moment for the players and a really nice touch by Netball Scotland. In front of friends and family, the squad and support staff gathered to celebrate not just their qualification for the World Cup final, but also the news that they had moved up to seventh in the world rankings!

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There were great words from CEO Claire Nelson and a series of videos from netball clubs throughout Scotland, as well as some notable top athletes, sending their best wishes. There is a lot of great work coming out of the offices of Netball Scotland at the Emirates in Glasgow, with walking netball, the Bounce Back to Netball programme and, of course, the Strathclyde Sirens.

What most people won’t know is that the Sirens also do great work in the community. Sirens for Success is a programme funded by Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity Fund, a powerful campaign which directly targets inactive and disengaged girls at secondary school.

The hope is that, using the Sirens as role models, they can educate, empower, engage and inspire girls identified as at risk. The six-week programme covers positive body image, drug and alcohol awareness, smoking, health and nutrition, and self-esteem, as well as confidence, mental health, leadership and more. Yet another example of how “sport for change” actually delivers in practice.

Stealing some words from Nelson Mandela, sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all kinds of discrimination.