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November 28, 2020

Jacqueline Kaggwa: Finding My Voice Through Sport to Help Others Find Theirs



Leadership Starts with Embracing Challenges

If I could go back in time and say one thing to my younger self, it is to embrace challenges and adversity as opportunities for growth. Leadership begins when we embrace challenges and use them to continuously improve ourselves. When we learn to challenge ourselves, we can inspire the same in others. Sport has transformed my sense of identity and inspired my desire to step into leadership roles to uplift, challenge, and inspire change in others.

Stepping Outside of My Comfort Zone 

It is through sport that I found a sense of belonging, a community, and my voice. Growing up, I was a shy and introverted child. Self-confidence did not come easily to me and seeing a lack of introverts in leadership roles made it hard to envision myself as one. I learned first-hand the importance of what the meaning of “seeing it to believe it” and seeing representation in leadership positions. When you don’t see people like you in leadership and decision-making roles its harder to step up and take up the challenge.

But through sport, I gained the self-confidence to step into roles where I could be a voice for others and promote underrepresented voices. Sport helped me to harness the power of introversion and turn it from my biggest weakness, into my greatest strength.

As a Communications Intern at SeeWhatSheCanDo, I see what different forms of leadership look like everyday. Leadership starts with a vision, a desire for change and resilience to push through adversity to make it happen. Seeing the impact sport has had in the sport stories of female leaders, and game-changers have had on women and girls has brought back my own memories and the impact sport has had on my current success.

The Power of Sports and Storytelling

Sports is a lot like storytelling. It has the power to connect people through stories and to rewrite stories. This is where I rewrote my narrative. This is where I gained my voice and continue to push to improve my love of storytelling to promote female voices. Sport and storytelling are an art that brings together people from different backgrounds and interests, under one common goal to win and succeed. But along the way we learn life lessons and inspire growth.

Basketball is a lot like storytelling. I had always played basketball for fun.  But when I joined my high school's junior varsity team, I had the chance to experience basketball for what it was:  an art form.  Everytime I stepped onto the court, I felt heard. The story of basketball allows us to rewrite the narrative as athletes. Whether we win or lose, there is always a lesson to be learned. Basketball taught me the value of friendship, teamwork and leadership. This starts with knowing your role, performing it well and pushing past the limits of your mental and physical abilities to achieve feat. Sport taught me that leadership starts when we understand that our mistakes do not define us. It's how we respond to them that does.

When I lost, I felt accountable to my teammates to make a commitment to work harder. When we won, I understood the importance of mental resilience. Going to bed early, waking up for 6 am practices, and working tirelessly to improve on our record could not have been done without the discipline to understand my role and improving on my skills daily. 



The Benefits of Sport on Self-Identity

  • Sport teaches mental toughness. Learning mental resilience is important for overcoming life challenges and treating mistakes as opportunities for growth. Sport has taught me the importance of not dwelling on my mistakes and instead use them to motivate me to improve every single day. Confidence starts when we learn to embrace mistakes as lessons and motivation, rather than burdens. 
  • Sport teaches teamwork skills. Sport provides the skills to adapt and be flexible with people of all backgrounds. It also provides the ability to manage conflict, competing interests, and work styles through communication and collaboration which are learned in team and individual sports.
  • Sport teaches empathy. Participating in sports at a young age is important for building the foundation for being understanding, patient and empathic towards others. Empathy teaches us valuable life skills such as practicing inclusivity, respect, and being open-minded to different ideas, perspectives and visions which is important for being an effective leader and teamplayer.
  • Sport teaches discipline. Sports training teaches us discipline through the countless hours of hardwork to perfect a skill. It teaches us to prioritize, schedule, and commit to progress that requires mental resilience, a positive mindset, and work ethic to get through the difficult process of improving our athletic ability. This skill translates to the discipline successful leaders possess in setting goals and pushing through the challenges and adversity until they reach each one. An effective leader possess discipline in the form of resilience, commitment and reliability. 
  • Sport teaches accountability. Sport teaches us good decision-making through physical activities that require collaboration, cooperation and communication with others. We must think clearly through the consequences and stand by our decisions which is effective for being a great teamplayer, one that thinks of others and how our decisions affect the team.
  • Sport teaches that to be a good leader, you need listen more than you speak. In sport in order to push towards a goal we must listen, cooperate and coordinate with our teammates to come together to finish an event or game. In the workplace an effective leader listens to their peers and colleagues to learn and apply it towards a common goal. To listen and compromise is a lifelong asset that sport teaches for career success.
  • Sport increases mental wellbeing. Participating in regular physical activity increases mental focus, and helps to reduce depression, anxiety and stress. Staying active is important for maintaining good mental and physical health which sharpens mental focus, productivity and a positive mindset that are key for success. 


Pursuing a Career in Communications



This internship at SeeWhatSheCanDo has taught me a lot. The experience has taught me how to be strategic and intentional in the support I provide to marginalized voices. At SeeWhatSheCanDo, Co-founders Tina Finelli and Caroline Wiley, work tirelessly to provide solution-based services that focus on celebrating and promoting stories of female leaders and their supporters, to empower women and girls in the sport community.

My responsibilities have given me the opportunity to put my knowledge and writing skills to the test, supporting female voices in sport through communications work that includes writing for SeeWhatSheCanDo Conversations to support the publication of podcasts.

Contributing to SeeWhatSheCanDo's Fall Roundup newsletter has taught me the importance of the written word. Storytelling is so important in pushing for diversity and representation of women and girls in all areas of sport including decision-making roles and sport leadership, coaches, referees and athletes. Sports stories can connect people around a shared experience, push boundaries, challenge beliefs and unite people in mobilizing for change.

Sport taught me that everything I want is on the other side of fear. Sport forces you to take on challenges as an individual and as a team member. The Communications Field is no different. As a Communications Student with an interest in social issues and human rights, I have found that sport challenges me to think outside the box, to be fearless and to try new things. Helping others is less about you, and more about how you can be of service to a community. Through my internship at SeeWhatSheCanDo, I work with an amazing team of women that have taught me that the underrepresentation of women in sport doesn’t have to be something we talk about forever, but something that we can change. To see it, is to believe it. 


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