Testimonials from mentors and mentees at #RYG16
Raise Your Game returned to the Emirates on Tuesday 19 April for Kick It Out’s sixth national conference, with over 200 mentees receiving vital guidance and advice as they look to find a career path within football.
There were a host of experts from across the football industry in attendance as mentors, representing a variety of professions such as coach, intermediary, administrator, sports scientist and more.
With over 300 people present on the day, Kick It Out spoke to a number of mentors and mentees about their experience of Raise Your Game 2016.
Ciaran Brennan – Communications Director at Sports Interactive:
“I’m a huge fan of the whole Raise Your Game experience. It’s always completely well-organised, attended by really interested, switched-on people. There’s a real energy in this room that you don’t get in your day-to-day business.
“We’ve benefitted directly from as a company from Raise Your Game because we’ve got at least three people in the current organisation who’ve come to us through the conference and there have been others in the past as well. So we look at it as a great resource and we’re always very happy to be involved.”
Kelly Somers – AFC Bournemouth Broadcast and Multimedia Executive
“Being a woman, I can really see how challenging it can be in this industry. I’ve been really aware of the work that Kick It Out has done and I think it’s great.
“Kick It Out is often associated with racism but it helps a far wider audience. If I can help young women who are just like I was a few years ago then brilliant.”
Adrian Kajumba – Daily Mirror Football Reporter
“It’s great to meet some of the people who have come along and they’re very lucky to have the opportunity – I wish there was something like this for me when I was making my way into the industry.
“Things have changed nowadays. People are more accessible with social media – everyone’s on Twitter, Facebook and you get to people in the industry a lot quicker and easier than you could when I was younger. But getting the face-to-face contact with people, exchanging business cards, contact details – it’s another level.”
Manish Bhasin – BBC Sport and Premier League Productions Presenter, and #RYG16 Host
“It’s an incredible day. I’m sure the individuals who have come realise just how lucky they are to be in a room with some of the biggest names in their respective fields in football.
“To be able to pick the brains of a former QPR manager (Chris Ramsey), a former Fulham manager (Kit Symons) and a former Director of Youth Development at West Ham (Tony Carr MBE) about how to get into the industry – I think it’s brilliant and it’s something that was never around for me. I can only applaud Kick It Out for bringing this together for the sixth year.”
Amar Singh – Squawka Chief Content Officer
“It’s good to speak to people from different walks of life and different parts of our society. Many of them are just looking for really sound advice and opportunities.
“Something like this shows Kick It Out are able to leverage the influence they have across the football sector and the media sector. There are not many organisations that could bring people from coaching, the media, sports science, admin and others into one room.
“I think it’s absolutely essential because for an afternoon like this, the amount of good work that can be done having this many people in one room, the amount of good conversations sowing the seeds for future connection – it’s huge.”
Warren Haughton – talkSPORT Reporter
“It’s nice to give back, to help people along their path – even if it’s not necessarily the one that you’ve gone down.
“It’s not just knowing people in football media, we know people in various other strands of the football business as well so if we can help anyone in any way, we will. We’re here for a reason and that’s to help – if we didn’t want to help people we wouldn’t be here.
Kit Symons – Ex-Fulham Manager and Ex-Wales Assistant Manager
“It’s very well-attended and I’m very impressed with the organisation and the professionalism of the whole day and the way it was structured.
“It was a very mixed group of people and it was really interesting. A lot of them were asking my experience and my opinion which was great, but I was quite interested to find out a bit about them as well. It was brilliant speaking to people, I really enjoyed it. I’m generally and genuinely interested in other people and it’s nice to hear their stories and try and give a bit of advice where I could.”
Damian Matthew – Ex-Charlton Athletic First Team Coach and ex-Chelsea Player
“From the moment I came here and saw the amount of people – not just the mentees – interested in the game, it was really refreshing and rewarding.
That passion has brought coaches managers, administrators, sports scientists, physios, finance staff together here and everyone is interested in the game, they obviously want to help the game and want to make a difference. That for me is really healthy.”
Steve Kabba – Ex-Watford striker and Player Mentor and Recruiter at The Stellar Group
“I thought it was really good – I was learning stuff as well. It was good to see what other people were thinking, how they want to get into the industry and how they perceive your job.
“There were a lot of young people here which is good, they’re opening their eyes and trying to broaden their horizons and get as much information as possible because you can meet a lot of people here.
“It’s the same for myself, I’ve met a few people I haven’t before, saw some old faces who I enjoy keeping in contact with – it’s all about networking and building those relationships.”
Raj Athwal – Chief Commercial Officer at Port Vale FC
“I’ve got to praise Kick It Out for putting such an event on because there are people here from all walks of life. For me, it’s about giving something back to people but the interest that’s been raised from people that have turned up makes me genuinely think this should put on more often.
“It’s absolutely huge because there is a certain way of getting into football, it’s not always through advertisements, it’s who you know, it’s networking and that’s what we as mentors can explain to people how the system works in football.”
Matt Lawson – Community Officer and Sports Nutritionist at Notts County FC
“I’ve worked with Kick It Out for a few years but this is my first Raise Your Game and it’s been fantastic.
“I’m just blown away by how powerful it was to bring so many people together, not only from football clubs, but from The FA and all different walks of life. There are some very, prey prestigious people in the room and it’s a pleasure to be alongside the likes of Chris Ramsey.
“I hope that we’ve given some of the people here today a bit of an insight into how they can go about improving their own careers.”
Mehik Safdar – Aspiring Coach
“They have given me very good ideas of how I can pursue my career. Manisha (Tailor) told me that because I don’t have any qualifications in coaching, it’s better that I gain some experience first before I go into my Level 1 course.
“I’ve found it really useful actually. Talking to different people has helped me a lot and I hope it will help me after the event.”
Hinay Mardania – Aiming to break into football finance
“I think it’s one of the best events you can go to if you want to work in football. I came last year and one of my mentors offered me a job at Crystal Palace, so I work there part-time while I’m at university.”
Carlos Garcia – Level 1 Coach
“I’ve learnt a lot from today and it adds a bit more confidence for you just to get out there and talk to people.
“It’s quite hard to get involved in the game but the mentors have given me more confidence and I’ve given them my details, they’ve given me theirs and it’s just helping me get out there.”
Ammarah Pandor – Member of Kick It Out’s Group for Young People
“I know that I’m in a difficult position with football being very male-dominated. I spoke to Sharon and she’s been through lots of barriers so I got lots of advice on how to tackle it.
“Events like Raise Your Game are really important to break down stereotypes – to think that they still exist in this day and age is ridiculous.”
Dilan Mistry – Level 1 Coach
“It’s been phenomenal, I’ve found it so helpful. Getting to know different coaches and networking with different people from around the game – that’s why I’ve come here. Some of the advice they give you, it’s just phenomenal.
“Different coaches today have had different perspectives on how I can move forward and how I can improve as a coach. It’s just broadening my knowledge and it has been so helpful.”
Lekan Odushola – Scout and trainee UEFA ‘B’ Coach
It’s a really insightful programme, you definitely learn a lot, especially about the different careers in football and the opportunities available. I think it’s great for young people.
“Information and knowledge – those are the two things that the event helps,” Lekan continued. “You get so much information from mentors about how to get to where you want to be, which isn’t necessarily available in schools or at university.
The photographs in this article were taken by Julian Rouse and Bruce Viveash (London RPS)