5 minutes with Portia Simond
Project 500 Coaching Champion and MK Movers Network Lead
In January 2022, we welcomed Portia to the Leap team as our Project 500 coaching champion and she is also leading the MK Movers Network. A skilled coach and mentor, Portia is passionate about supporting women into coaching roles.
We caught up with her to find out about her journey with movement, challenges along the way and her plans for the new roles.
Please tell us a little about your background in movement / physical activity / sport.
Following the birth of my second daughter I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. I found it very tough to deal with until I explored running as a way to help my mental health. I found that it gave me the focus I needed at that point in my life, whilst also getting me fit, giving me a sense of achievement and a change of surroundings.
I quickly graduated from going on short runs to running longer and longer distances before running in many different marathons, ultra’s and other races.
I joined Redway Runners to meet and socialize with people whilst running. I became a run lead and then qualified as a Run Coach through UK Athletics. I’ve gone onto lead running activities for many different organisations, coaching people across all ages and walks of life. I started my own business delivering sport activities around the Three Counties.
What inspired you to start your leading journey?
As I became more and more immersed in my obsession of running, I found myself naturally drawn to helping other Redway Runners. I was given a run lead role and loved the challenge and purpose it gave me. Over time, I saw that other people could gain the benefits of running that I had, and that I had the experience and understanding to help them do this.
Why are you passionate about helping women become leaders in movement, physical activity and sport?
There are not many of us! Women are just as capable as men of being great, inspiring coaches, but are under-represented in the world of coaching. If we don’t do something to support women as coaches, then their talent will go unrecognized and unused.
Women need to be seen as community role models. Having more women coaches in sport will help foster an environment that will encourage more women into sport and also to stay in sport for longer.
What has been the biggest challenge in your leadership journey?
For a long time I didn’t recognize/believe that I had a lot to contribute and could help people through my coaching. It’s important to keep yourself motivated. The best motivation of all is when I get some feedback from a runner about how they’ve been helped by what I do.
What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a movement leader?
Go for it! You can do this! It’s incredibly satisfying to see your hard work translate into meaningful change for the groups/people you lead. Bonus you will not be alone, you have people like me ready to support and guide you in your leading journey. Your community needs you.
What do you hope to be doing in 5 years’ time?
I see myself leading a network of women and girl leaders/coaches, offering support, training and guidance. Running workshops to empower girls and women to become leaders in their communities.
And just for fun…
What’s your most memorable holiday destination?
Australia. I’ve been to both East and West coasts. Both are amazing. Shame it’s so far away!
Are you a morning person, or a night owl?
A morning person. My mind starts ticking the moment I get up!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My parents named me after the character in Merchant of Venice who was a lawyer of sorts, and so for a long time I wanted to be a criminal lawyer.