Chelsea’s Training Ground, Cobham – 2 November 2012
Lord Sebastian Coe provided a memorable close to Kick It Out’s ‘Raise Your Game’ series with an impromptu visit to Chelsea’s Cobham training ground.
Having overseen the most widely acclaimed Olympics and Paralympics in history, Lord Coe spoke to aspiring individuals looking to carve out a career in the football industry about the vital role played by people working in a variety of roles behind the scenes in ensuring the delivery of such a successful Games.
“You’re in the business of changing people’s lives,” said Lord Coe. “Sport is the most powerful vehicle I can think of which is able to do this. We need coaches and mentors to help unearth talent and act as role models to steer young people in the right direction.
“The biggest value that coaches and mentors bring is not necessarily enhancing skillsets but through creating a framework allowing individuals to go away and think about their lives in an alternative manner. You’re able to help them find a purpose in their lives, and create a framework in which they can operate within in so many different ways.
“One of the things which drove us all to bid for the Games in the first place was not because everybody was going to go off and become world class athletes, but due to the fact we wanted to inspire a new generation of people to get into sport in various capacities across the board. Following the summer we’ve just had, you’ve all got a great opportunity to make an impact in sport.”
Lord Coe’s surprise visit topped off the final instalment of a five-part nationwide series taking place over the last two months. Run in conjunction with the Black and Asian Coaches Association (BACA), ‘Raise Your Game’ workshops had been held in Leeds, Gravesend, Wolverhampton and Manchester before reaching Cobham, where Lord Coe was joined by ITV football commentator Clive Tyldesley and Kick It Out trustee Paul Elliott.
“The aim of the ‘Raise Your Game’ series has been to bring people together from all backgrounds to make them aware of the opportunities which are available in different areas of the game,” commented Mentoring and Leadership Project manager Troy Townsend. “Everybody who has attended the workshops throughout the country have taken something out of the experience.
“The journey into football is a personal one. You never stop learning, no matter how old you are and where you are in life. We’ve given people the chance to get a step up on the ladder and we’re keen to offer guidance and support beyond these events. The more people we get involved in the project, the more the game grows and the more available it becomes to everybody.”
Prior to Lord Coe’s arrival, Clive, who has reported on numerous Champions League and FA Cup finals, World Cup and European Championship matches, and Paul, Chelsea’s first black captain, urged attendees to chase their dreams whilst being mindful of other available avenues into employment within the game.
“Meeting the people here takes me back to when I decided I wanted to pursue a career as a football commentator,” reflected Clive. “It has been a long and winding road to get to where I am, but I have had a lot of breaks and a slice of good luck along the way. Young people realising their ambitions now are heading into a far more competitive era than what I grew up in.
“The core belief and interest I had when I was looking to break through is the same as what is required today though. An interest is not a possession – it’s not like an ipad or a DVD that you have and use from time to time. Interest is 24/7 and if you want to work in football you have to start acting and thinking like somebody already in the industry. Then, if you’re called upon, you’ll be ready to grab the opportunity with both hands.”
Concurring with Clive’s thoughts, Paul emphasised the increasing importance of seeking advice and guidance from mentors who have already achieved within football due to the competitive nature of the industry. “There are an abundance of fantastic opportunities available to this generation. There’s a large pool of people looking to get into lots of different areas of the game though, so they must be well-equipped, spend time looking at alternative routes, and gather knowledge from those in the know.
“These events have been a very new and innovative way of introducing young people to the various pathways football can provide. The mentors who have taken part throughout the series are willing to impart with their knowledge, and this is crucial in enabling participants to achieve their goals. I have been incredibly impressed by the energy and enthusiasm displayed by the people here, and I look forward to them making further strides forward beyond this.”
With a particular emphasis on the grassroots level in Cobham, coaching masterclasses came from Manisha Tailor, an ambassador for The FA’s ‘Football Needs You’ scheme, AFC Wembley founder Trevor Hutton and Hampton & Richmond Borough academy manager Peter Augustine, a UEFA ‘A’ Licence holder. The trio gave a specific focus to coaches looking to complete FA Youth Modules and FA Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 coaching badges.
“I’ve taken a lot away from this initiative,” revealed Manisha, a fully-trained headteacher and member of London FA’s Equality Advisory Group. “Learning is reciprocal and it’s helped me develop as both a coach and mentor. Organising events like this are so important as it provides invaluable networking opportunities. The onus is now on all of the participants to go forward from here and use the links they’ve made to help them progress in their particular field.”