I left school with very few qualifications. I was always more interested in sport, especially football, so spent most of the day just wanting to get home and get out to the park to play with my mates! For a job, I knew I wanted it to be something to do with football, but I wasn’t sure what exactly or how you could even to get into it.
My mum’s friend had suggested volunteering as a way to help me get experience and gain some new skills, whilst I decided what I wanted to do. I was really reluctant initially as I didn’t see the point of working for free and I just thought volunteers were a bunch of do gooders! However, a few months after leaving school, the coach of the under 18s football team asked if anyone was interested in helping him with coaching the under 12s team. I thought it was worth giving it a go… three years later it turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made!
It was really great fun and I met so many great people. Over time, having started mainly just encouraging the kids to get involved and teaching them football skills, I took on more responsibilities, being involved in the coaching, arranging matches, liaising with parents, and representing the team linking into the league management committee. These experiences have helped my communication and leadership skills, being a good team player, and I’m a lot better on the computer with emails and stuff. Everyone says how much they see my confidence has grown.
So, when my team coach told me about me about this job and said he would give me a reference and help with the application, I applied and got the job! Now I’m working as youth worker in a charity that supports young people from deprived backgrounds, helping to deliver their football programme which engages the young people in positive activity
I owe so much to my old team coach – that one volunteering role has changed my life! I’m being supported to do my youth work qualifications alongside my job and I’m using some of my skills volunteering for a mentoring scheme that supports young people as they leave prison and are reintegrated into society. And of course I still help out with the under 12s team!