My 5 role models… with Stacey Copeland

We’re celebrating the release of our Role Models Poster Series; posters of awesome role model girls doing the sports that they love. We’ve sent these out to over 355,000 children, including every primary school in West and South Yorkshire, and every school who’s signed up to our Girls and Sport Pledge. We’re passionate about putting more awesome female sporting role models in front of girls (and boys!) and to celebrate we’ve interviewed some awesome grown up role models about the 5 people who inspired them.

In this week’s article Totally Runable’s Natalie Jackson spoke to Stacey Copeland, Commonwealth boxing champion, former England footballer, public speaker, women’s sport advocate and founder of the charity ‘Pave The Way’, all about the categories of people that inspire her.

1) People who achieve athletically

“This could be people who’ve dedicated their entire life to getting to the Olympics and they make it or win an Olympic medal. Or it could be the person who has been through a difficult medical condition, or mental health problems, and gone on to complete a 5k transforming their life. The achievement is personal. What inspires me is the way that they’ve been the best versions of themselves in that moment, held it together, and reached a defining moment for them. I admire people who have shown dedication, commitment and consistency to achieve something. Whether that lands them at the Olympics, or they’ve completed a 5k they never thought they were capable of, they’re both really impressive.”

2) ‘Sport Makers’

“These are our unsung heroes of sport. You can’t get to the elite level of sport without having the help of literally thousands of people who gave their time, love, and energy to make sport happen. All the way from childhood, every sportsperson can tell you about people who volunteered as referees, judges, officials, or club secretaries and gave their time. These people are largely volunteering, but might also be in paid roles going over and above; the PE teacher doing extra on weekends to support young people, or the coach who gives more than they need to because they’re passionate about the development of each young person they work with. Their reward is often seeing others achieve, whether on the field of play winning medals or off the field with a young person who’s maybe gone down the wrong path but gone on to live a really positive life. They are selfless, and they are absolute role models to me.”

3) Certain types of leaders

“I don’t mean all leaders. I mean the leaders, whether in sport as team captains, in business leading a company, in politics leading a country, or in schools, families, or communities, who really serve the people they lead. They don’t use their power to dictate, bully or shout. They bring out the gifts in those around them. That might involve showing vulnerability, admitting when they’re wrong, or asking for help. It might involve being secure enough to employ people who are better at things than they are, to create the best team they can. Those who enable others when in a position of any type of power, are really impressive to me. In sport, I’m inspired by sportspeople using their platform to do good – fighting for social change or against injustice. That kind of leadership is really important.”

4) My ‘Positive Petrol Tanks’

“Anyone who is trying to achieve anything has lots to juggle; your time gets used up and you get tired sometimes, especially when you throw in things like negativity on social media, or barriers in your way to achieving something. I’m lucky in that my ‘positivity petrol tank’ is generally quite high, and I’m very motivated, but I’m human and can feel low sometimes. That’s when I need the people I think of as my ‘Positive Petrol Tanks’. They’re in this category because I trust what they say, and that they are saying it for my benefit. I really appreciate the time they give me, and I would do the same for them. Everyone needs some ‘Positive Petrol Tanks’ in their life!”

5) ‘Everyday Warriors’

“Elite sport can be a bit of a bubble, but I’ve been fortunate in my sports careers to have stayed grounded and not felt like I’ve been stuck in that bubble. It might actually have been beneficial on the sport side to have less going on in the rest of my life but being out of the bubble has been great on a personal level. I’ve seen so many people with incredible and inspiring stories, like children at the school where I work. Some have difficult home lives, yet they come to school every day and do their best. Their parents are dealing with illness or adversity but they’re getting their kids ready, supporting them, and being the best versions of themselves. Outside school I’ve come across ‘Everyday Warriors’ too; they might have lost a job or a business, or gone through a horrible divorce, but they always give their best. We don’t always think of them as incredible, but they are. Raising children on your own with a full-time job or getting through difficult times and looking after your family – it’s quite remarkable! They don’t get a medal for what they go through, but they should. They’re absolute role models.”

If you know a school who might like to know more about the Gender Sport Gap and what they can do to measure and start to close it, they should be a part of Totally Runable’s Girls and Sport Pledge. It’s completely free to be a part of and includes some brilliant resources to start your school’s Gender Sporty Gap journey.

Sign up at or email Natalie Jackson to find out more at

PHOTO CREDIT The fantastic photo of Stacey used in this article was taken by the supremely talented Nigel Maitland.