‘I was expecting stroppy teenagers’

Active Academy teenagers learning to surf

Nick Bright and teenagers from Northern Ireland taking part in surfing

It’s 2am. My alarm is going off and I’m exhausted. I have to get up and do my radio show before rushing off to Northern Ireland to go surfing.

Yes surfing. In March.

And no, it’s not because I love the freezing cold ocean – it’s because I’ve been on a unique sporting journey with a group of Northern Irish teenagers.

We travelled through Northern Ireland together and had a go at a range of different sports such as mountain biking, surfing and golf.

And most of us were doing it for the first time.


Caitlin during the group’s climbing day

The young people taking part are at the age where you finish school and, unless you’re part of a sports team, you just stop playing sport.

You often don’t really get involved with it again until you’re older and somebody suggests something like five-a-side – then you quickly realise your legs don’t work as well and it takes you a week to recover.

So it’s been a great experience for me because, believe it or not, it’s the first time I’ve tried out most of the sports as well. I’ve never really played golf – well, unless you count crazy golf on holiday.

And surfing is something I never thought I’d try, not even in a hot country.

But actually it was something I enjoyed a lot and would definitely do again. Most importantly, though, the kids loved it.

It was great to see so many of them enjoy themselves, and that was what it was all about.

  • You will be able to show a special programme about Nick’s journey with the group on the iPlayer from Saturday, 30 May.

If I’m being completely honest, coming into this I was expecting a lot of stroppy teenagers who just didn’t want to do it, because I remember being their age.

That would’ve been me – ‘I don’t really want to do this, I can’t be bothered’ – especially getting into a wet suit.

But actually, the participation was 100%.

I met so many great characters during this journey and some of them make for great viewing.

Caitlin for example had a massive personality. I noticed that from the first day. So she is somebody that stuck out and is definitely worth watching.

Another is Nichola. The day we went climbing Nichola was terrified – she didn’t want to go up at all.

It’s interesting because you can actually feel her fear. But you’ll have to watch for yourselves to see if she was able to overcome it.


The group of teenagers contained a range of characters

I am probably starting to sound like broken record, but it’s really important to encourage kids to continue with sport because there are more and more distractions from being active nowadays.

Games consoles, mobile phones, tablets – there are so many excuses not to get outside, just run around and have fun.

So if we can encourage people to get outside get out their comfort zone by trying things like this then it has all been worth it.

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