Shameema Yousuf is an applied practitioner in sport psychology with a counselling background, who holds memberships and certifications of sport psychology and counselling associations both in the US and UK. Her work has included working with programs and individual athletes cross Atlantic, and she is currently supporting BHAFC Women’s 1st and development squad. With a previous athletic background and +15 year financial sector leadership career, she draws on experiences of being in different high performance environments to support the development of performance and leadership programs. Of her many passions, one is enabling youths gain access to sport and empowering children from all backgrounds through sport leadership structures. One of her big influence on youths has been her design and development of a structured life skills curriculum and culture, that has now rebranded under the USTA Foundation Serve and Connect title, having impact on the lives of youths in 8 US cities/states. She is co-author on a book chapter and has published a few articles for publications in BTEC sport curriculum, sport magazines and peer review journals.
1. What book(s) have greatly influenced your life?
Nelson Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom
Carol Dweck – Mindset
2. How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?
At the age of 16 I believed I would get to represent my country in U18/21 field hockey, but I was not selected. This made me even more determined to build strength, refine my skill and master my craft. The following year not only was I selected, but I also captained my provincial (county) side. This was one of the first sport failure/success stories that sticks out in my mind. Later as graduate student I had to defer my departure to the US as I was not granted a visa as a mature person. I took a year out to go back into the financial world before re-applying, and this time was granted the visa. This delay allowed me to start the new 2-year Masters program at BU, which combined sport psychology and mental health counselling giving me a rich training and experience in the field. Had I started the year before, I would have only had the one year of training.
3. In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?
Allowing myself to be vulnerable – high performance/elite athletes and corporate leaders strive for mastery and perfection, but then we have to remind ourselves that being vulnerable and imperfect, allows for self-reflection and growth.
4. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring young coach, what would that advice be?
Think of the person beyond their sport and learn about their story – who are they outside of the sport environment and encourage them to make connections between sport and life. They are an athlete, someone’s brother or sister, a drummer perhaps, a mathematician, perhaps they are the family leader etc. They are not just a footballer or athlete.
5. What bad advice do you hear most from your area of expertise?
Sport psychology is all about mental skills training for performance. I believe Sport psychology is the umbrella that encompasses aspects of youth sport development, athlete development, mental skills training for performance optimisation, mental health, performance lifestyle and wellbeing.
6. Who, in your life, has inspired you most? (and why)
I have 2!
At the age of thirteen, my Dad had NO education, spoke not a word of English, lived a life as a poor stable boy in a small Indian village with just a few clothes and torn pair of shoes. By the age of 26 he was a qualified barrister the first Asian Indian man from Central Africa (to where his family had migrated) being admitted to the Middle Temple in the UK, going onto to serve HM government. He is our whole family’s inspiration and has modelled for us the values of hard work, effort and determination.
In my career to date, one of my earlier bosses said to me quite simply “challenge me, but when you do make sure you have done your homework and have detail to back your argument as to why we should try your approach. If you do that, I know you are prepared and I will back you.” He lives by his word, and his business survives well, because he recognises the skill and strengths of his team, alongside his own.
7. How would you best define a coach?
A coach is a nurturer, confidante, mentor, educator and a leader.
8. What do you do for your own CPD?
Attend conferences, discuss cases for peer “supervision”, take courses, read books, latest research