Interview with #RYG17 mentor Christina Oshodi
Kick It Out is hosting its seventh annual Raise Your Game national conference on Monday 24 April at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, providing a unique opportunity for individuals looking to break into the football industry.
Supported by the Premier League, the mentoring event will welcome over 300 mentees to the Woolwich Suite as they seek advice from experienced mentors to learn more about careers within the sport.
Ahead of the conference, Kick It Out spoke to Christina Oshodi, County Coach Developer for The FA in the Middlesex region, who will be mentoring in the grassroots and community category, about her pathway into the football industry and her thoughts ahead of attending her first Raise Your Game.
Christina’s career in football blossomed later than she expected, thanks to an opportunity provided at a local school.
“As a player I entered organised football relatively late but I enjoyed doing bits of coaching within my local school, such as supporting teachers with sports lessons. I had a natural knack for helping those who perhaps don’t necessarily feel comfortable playing football.
“From there I realised that to achieve a career in sport I needed to obtain my academic qualifications as well as coaching badges from national governing bodies. So I decided to go to university and get a degree in sports coaching whilst also doing national governing body awards such as Level One qualifications in football, basketball and other sports whilst working part-time in football environments.
“I have a great deal of support from my family in regards to me as a female working in football which allows me to enjoy what I do. From the background and culture I am from, it was always about getting jobs in law, accounting or being a doctor, so I was quite fortunate that my family were happy for me to be in sport as a female.
“Before my current job one of my previous roles was as an FA Mentor, helping to support grassroots coaches. This then led to my current role which is County Coach Developer at The FA, where I develop, mentor, support and quality assure the FA affiliate tutors in Middlesex. Also in partnership with Middlesex County FA devise and deliver a coach education programme for coaches in Middlesex.”
Christina’s pathway into the sport is perhaps less trodden than many of her colleagues. But she is hoping her experience can help provide an example of the opportunities available in the football industry.
“Something that I’ve realised working within football, and also with other jobs, is that there is a system in place and it’s about understanding that system and how the attributes you have as an individual can work within it.
“Giving insight into avenues and directions which mentees can go and shape their career towards is also important. I also feel that mentees need to show the skills that they have, in whatever field they choose to go in, and understand how they can develop them.
“It’s about giving people the confidence to believe there are avenues out there for them, as there are young people, particularly young black females, who are not exposed to the football environment.
“Anyone who asks questions about how to pursue a career within football and how to work within an organisation such as The FA, I am happy to answer for them and provide some insight.”
So what advice does Christina have for the mentees that will be in attendance at Emirates Stadium later this month?
“To be honest, they have to be themselves because you can only be the best you, there’s no point being an ok imitation of somebody else.
“It’s about understanding what they bring which is different to other people. They should come with an idea of what they can bring as an individual – and then I can help as a mentor – which is to bring the best out of the mentee, and also to bring other skills out of the individual which they may not be aware of themselves.”
Christina is also looking to interacting with fellow coaches and industry experts at #RYG17.
“I haven’t been to Raise Your Game event previously but I know colleagues of mine who have been previously and have spoken glowingly about it so I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’m hoping to network and learn a lot as well! Especially in my current role, it’s important to get feedback from peers and learn from different people to shape what I do in my role.
“Another thing for me is that I also want to inspire the next generation. I think for one they should learn about the history of the field but also feel supported in the fact there are opportunities out there for them in the industry today.”