“School sport should help enhance the physical and emotional well-being of all pupils, no matter what their level”; an interview with Nic Sestaret, new Director of Sport
The School caught up with former professional rugby player Nic Sestaret, who will be joining Westonbirt in January as the new Director of Sport. During his interview, Nic covered his approach to sports in schools and what attributes he thinks makes a great sports person.
What will be the first thing on your agenda when you get to Westonbirt School?
The first thing on my agenda will be to meet with the students, staff, and parents. I also want to understand the school’s day-to-day routine and set-up. I can’t wait to start my new journey!
As a former professional rugby player, what is your approach to sports in schools?
Professional sport and school sport are very different. Whereas in the professional environment you are playing to earn a living, the aims of sport in school are far broader. Whilst most professional sports people are very fit, there are often considerable strains put on their physical and emotional well-being. School sport should help enhance the physical and emotional well-being of all pupils, no matter what their level. Physical exercise is essential for students and their well-being. Emotional and physical health can help increase confidence and improve focus in the classroom. Whilst it was a real privilege to play sport professionally and in many ways it was a great life, it is not necessarily for all.
There will, however, be some at Westonbirt for whom sport will become a career. These pupils will need clear support to reach their sporting ambitions. For these high-level sports people, there will be high expectations both on and off the field of play and I would hope to provide them with clear guidance, encouragement, and bespoke programmes, tailored to fulfilling their ambitions. I would hope to instill a real belief, that with hard work and determination, there is no glass ceiling in the world of sport. If I can make it as a professional sportsman, then with hard work and a positive attitude, others certainly can too!
Whether in the professional arena, or simply as a leisure pursuit for many, I hope that every student at Westonbirt, will experience sport in a fun, inclusive, well-designed, challenging, and safe environment which will prepare them for life beyond school and into adulthood.
Who is your favourite sports person and why?
I admire the Australian athlete Cathy Freeman, who won the gold in the 400m in the Sydney Olympics in 1996. As a native Aboriginal Australian, not only was Freeman running for personal glory but had the enormous weight of the whole continent on her shoulders. As an aspiring athlete myself, I marvelled at her spectacular performance. With the stadium ablaze with camera flashlights and millions watching on television, Freeman delivered a near perfect athletic performance, which has inspired millions of youngsters ever since. In many respects, it was one of the most iconic moments in Olympic history and made a huge impression on me as a youngster. In any walk of life, we need heroes and great role models.
Although she is now retired, I continue to be impressed with the way in which Freeman has used her unique platform to support others in society. In 2007 she set up the Cathy Freeman Foundation, which aims to help support the education of Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.
What do you think makes a good sports person?
As simple as it sounds, I believe a good sports person is someone who plays with honour. A person who can remain humble, has good manners, has the desire to learn, work hard, is coachable, committed, consistent and driven to maximise their potential. A bit like Cathy Freeman really!
During your sporting career, what’s been your most memorable moment?
I have many memorable moments during my sporting career. Representing France, my first U13 regional selection, my first ever training session, my first premiership match with Toulouse at age 18, my first match in England to name but a few. I feel lucky to have played in France and England and to have met charismatic people and to have been able to experience different cultures.
What are you looking forward to most about joining Westonbirt School?
I have heard about the fantastic spirit at Westonbirt, and I am really looking forward to joining the community and getting to know the students. I can’t wait to start.
Photo via www.rugbyrama.fr