• ENGSO Youth

“You don’t have to waste time trying to be someone else,” interview with Šárka Pancochová

On the occasion of this year’s Pride Month, Luca Arfini, a young communications professional from Italy, interviewed young professional athletes who came out of the closet.

The first one to be interviewed is Šárka Pancochová, a professional snowboarder from the Czech Republic, who won a silver medal in slopestyle at the 2011 FIS Snowboarding World Championships.

1. What is the importance of sports in your life?

I have to say that snowboarding is a full-on lifestyle for me. I love being able to call it a job. I can’t imagine my life without snowboarding. That said I can’t imagine my life without sports and activities that I do. It makes me learn a lot about myself physically and mentally. And it gives me much more resilience for my day to day life.

2. When and why did you decide to come out of the closet?

To me, it didn’t even seem like coming out of the closet at the time when I did. Our industry and the people around us were pretty understating. But when I found out I was gay, maybe around 18, it seemed a lot bigger deal then and I was pretty scared to be judged and not accepted. I feel like it was really good for me to just get in peace with it and feel good about myself about all of it before I came out.

3. What are the main challenges that LGBTI professional athletes could face during their careers?

Not everyone is accepting and understating of the LGBTI community. There are always going to be people that will judge and make our lives harder. However, I think we have the power to control our choices and decisions in life and, if you want something really bad, you will get to it by hard work, a good plan, and patience.

4. Do you think the sports environment has become more inclusive for the LGBTI community over the years? Why?

I think the whole world became more inclusive over the years and it’s only going to get better.

5. How can sport contribute to foster integration and equality in the younger generations?

I can say from my experience that it helped me to be strong, confident, and outspoken. It will give more courage to the youngsters and people that are not sure how they feel about coming out. Just being a good human and good example for everyone.

6. What would be your advice to the LGBTI youth (based on your experience)?

I would say that it’s very important to be yourself. You don’t have to waste time trying to be someone else and you can better concentrate on being your best and on what you want to do and achieve in life. Moreover, if you are scared to tell your family about your sexual orientation, tell it first to some people that you trust and talk to them about how you feel. Over time it won’t feel like such a big deal to speak about it.