Raise Your Game isn’t a one-day event. It is often the start of a process where mentees meet mentors for the first time and forge relationships that endure long after the event itself.
Here, we’ve collated the best stories from mentees who have managed to gain employment in football after attending a Raise Your Game event.
Kick It Out’s Mentoring and Leadership Project has produced a number of other success stories since its launch in July 2010. Here’s a few of the opportunities which have come about as a direct result of people attending the campaign’s national and regional conferences and events.
Troy Townsend - Kick It Out
Troy Townsend attended the ‘Leading the Way’ conference in March 2011. He went on to volunteer with Kick It Out and eventually replaced his predecessor, former England international Earl Barrett, as Mentoring and Leadership Project Manager in May 2012.
“I wanted to make a career change in my life. I had been a teacher and a coach, and had worked in my community for a long time. I decided to volunteer with Kick It Out, because I wanted to show people I was keen and willing to make a difference. Luckily enough, Earl managed to get a position at Stoke City and the door opened for me.
“The journey into football is a personal one. You never stop learning, no matter how old you are and where you are in life. The Project gives people the chance to get a step up on the ladder and we’re keen to give them the guidance and support needed. The more people we get involved in the Project, the more the game grows and the more available it becomes to everybody.”
Alex Eckhout – Premier League
Alex Eckhout attended the ‘Leading the Way’ conference in March 2011. After being mentored by Cathy Long, Head of Supporters Services at the Premier League, she went on to gain work experience in their offices in London before being appointed Press & Information Executive in September 2011.
Ravinder Bhandal – Birmingham County FA
Ravinder Bhandal attended the Wolverhampton instalment of the Raise Your Game series in October 2012. After maintaining contact with Birmingham County FA’s Jasbir Batt and Mohammed Juned following event, he successfully applied for the post as Football Development Administrator in February 2013.
“I am delighted to be working at Birmingham County FA. I mainly focus on the Portfolio of Coach Education and implement the National Game Strategy. If I didn’t go to the Raise Your Game workshop in Wolverhampton I wouldn’t be where I am now. The point of the initiative was to provide people with opportunities of employment and I managed to get this role.
“As soon as I took my seat at the interview everything seemed to flow perfectly and I realised it was meant to be. I have been trying to get into the industry for a long time so when the contract finally came through it all became very real. My passion has always been to work in football and I see this as the first step on the ladder for me.”
Anthony Hassan – Sports Interactive
Anthony Hassan attended the Raise Your Game conference in April 2013. Having spoken to Miles Jacobson and Ciaran Brennan from Sports Interactive, he was offered the Assistant Club Researcher position for Queens Park Rangers FC on the creative studio’s upcoming Football Manager 2014 edition.
“Attending the Raise Your Game conference was a very inspirational experience and left me feeling more determined than ever to achieve my goals. I had taken away some great advice from professionals in the industry and was looking forward to putting them into action.
“Less than 24 hours later I was already seeing results when I was offered the role working on Football Manager 2014. I would like to thank everyone involved in the whole day for such an amazing experience. The staff at Kick It Out have provided me with further belief in my ability and left me more determined than ever to achieve my goals.”
Karamjit (Kam) Uppal – West Bromwich Albion FC
Kam Uppal attended the Raise Your Game conference in April 2013. He has since agreed to manage the West Bromwich Albion Academy Colts under-12s after working within the Baggies’ academy ranks for just over a year as a scout. His mentor Lincoln Moses played a key role in him overcoming the tough interview process.
“I already knew of Lincoln as he also works at West Brom as a scout, but I hadn’t actually been introduced to him before. The Raise Your Game conference was fantastic for that as it gave people the chance to meet and exchange ideas with those they could really relate to. Lincoln has been a huge support and is always providing me with any guidance I may need.
“He has been particularly helpful when it comes to the work I do with my non-league team Mahal. We met up not long after the conference and he gave me a huge insight into targeting funding and how best to bring players through. The time Lincoln has invested in me has made me want to give a little back now too.”
Daniel McGeechie - West Riding FA
Daniel McGeachie attended the 2014 Raise Your Game conference at Wembley Stadium. After speaking to numerous mentors and mentees during the event, Daniel was inspired to pursue a career in football which has led him to join West Riding FA in their Press and Communications department.
“Raise Your Game certainly made me realise that I had a lot of opportunities available if I started to ask the questions and put myself around a bit! Luckily not too long after the event I was made aware of this position that was coming available.”
“I’ve been the biggest advocate of the whole process really, and even more of a Kick It Out advocate now with the work the guys do. The conference I can’t recommend highly enough, hopefully they’ll be a huge contingent from West Yorkshire and Leeds next year, where I am from.”
Nicole Allison - QPR Community Trust
Nicole Allison, spent time work-shadowing within the community trust at Queens Park Rangers.
At the 2012 Leading The Way conference, Nicole met Andy Evans, who has been a regular mentor at Kick It Out conferences. Nicole shadowed Andy Evans, QPR’s Community Trust’s CEO, and found it a valuable opportunity.
She commented “I felt the conference gave me more direction in where I want to go in the football industry. By meeting people who are there to help guide you, made it a really worthwhile experience.”
Andy continued to support her development as she undertook her Masters.
Hannah Harding - Kick It Out
Hannah Harding, attended Kick It Out workshops early 2012 leading to a nine-month voluntary role within Kick It Out.
Hannah first came into contact with Kick It Out when she attended one of the campaign’s equality and diversity workshops, delivered by the Active Communities Network, at London’s City Hall in January 2012.
Following a conversation with Kick It Out staff at the session, she decided to apply for a voluntary post working on the Mentoring and Leadership Project. Having impressed during the interview stage, Hannah was given a six month position at Kick It Out, playing a key role in the organisation and delivery of the ‘Leading the Way’ conference at the TUC in London during March 2012.
She continued to work at Kick It Out on a voluntary basis, and passed her FA Licensed Agency exams during her time with the campaign.
Hannah now works for the Daily Mail on their sports desk.
Emmanuel Fajemilua - Coventry City FC
Emmanuel Fajemilua attended the 2014 Raise Your Game conference at Wembley Stadium. After meeting several people who guided him throughout the process, he joined Coventry City as a Sports Scientist.
“I’ve always had an interest in working in football but have never known how to pursue the dream without being an ex-professional footballer. I went to Coventry to study Sport and Exercise Science and thought maybe it would help but even then it proved very difficult.
“I couldn’t believe my luck to be at an event which offered me a chance to speak face-to-face with people already in the industry as well as also experiencing workshops in other fields related to football. I tried to make the most of my time there and i found it amazing how much me and my mentors had in common.”