A PUPIL from Dunblane High School is encouraging young people who are passionate about sport to follow in her footsteps and apply to become a member of one of the country’s leading sporting programmes.

Applications are now open to join The Young People’s Sport Panel (YPSP) and 16-year-old Rachel Rennie from Dunblane, who is approaching the end of her two-year-cycle, hopes more young people in her region will apply to become part of the top programme.

Led by sportscotland, supported by Young Scot and The National Lottery, The Young People’s Sport Panel is a national platform created to represent a voice of young people across the country. Currently in its third two-year cycle, Rachel and the 14 other panel members have had the opportunity to influence decision making and drive change to help shape the future of sport in Scotland.

As the national search begins to recruit new panel members, Rachel reflects on her experience being part of one of Scotland’s most influential sporting programmes: “It’s been an honour to have been selected on the Young People’s Sport Panel. Being able to play such an important role in ensuring the voice of young people is part of the sporting conversation across Scotland has been such an exciting and rewarding experience. Its been amazing to work in particular to raise awareness of sport to women and girls, which I’m really passionate about.”

In 2016, Rachel and the 14 other panel members were selected from over 170 applicants following a five month nationwide recruitment process. With 2018 designated ‘The Year of Young People’, Rachel is keen for the new panel to really make a difference to the future of sport in Scotland. She added: “As my time on the panel comes to an end, I really hope young people go for it and apply to the next sport panel. We need to make sure young people have their voices heard in sport, so if you are passionate about making a difference and want to share your opinions and experiences, then the sport panel is for you.”

Before finishing up her position in June, Rachel and the panel will produce a toolkit sharing their advice and tips on creating a similar group. Regarded as the ‘blueprint’ for young people’s panels, sportscotland has supported partners in governing bodies and in local authorities, including Scottish Disability Sport and South Lanarkshire, who have since created their own groups after being inspired by the Young People’s Sport Panel’s progress.

Stewart Harris, Chief Executive of sportscotland, said: “It’s been an amazing experience working with our Young People’s Sport Panel. The commitment and passion these young people have for sport is incredible, as is the impact Rachel and the panel have made both at a local and national level.

“As the applications for our new panel are now live, we hope to receive a record number of entries for 2018. We’re looking for passionate and ambitious young people who have the drive to really make a difference in Scottish sport. If this sounds like you or someone you know, we’d love to invite you to be part of our team.”

Young Scot CEO, Louise Macdonald, said: “The panel have been a fantastic team supporting sportscotland and many others. It’s now time for a fresh squad of enthusiastic young people to get involved to shape the future of sport in Scotland and help deliver on the goals for the Year of Young People 2018 and beyond. It’s a wonderful opportunity - especially for young people who have faced barriers to sport and young people who want to represent Scotland’s diversity and I’d encourage all to apply.”

Applications for the Young People’s Sport Panel are now open for young people aged between 14 – 23 and will close on Thursday 22 February at noon. Please visit www.sportscotland.org.uk/sportpanel to apply.