“This time last year I hated my life. I was unemployed after quitting a job I didn’t want to do,” said Rob Ollman.
Rob’s fortunes were about to turn after spotting a leaflet at the Job Centre about an employability programme run by the Fulham FC Foundation.
‘My Future Goal’, supported by Barclays Spaces for Sports – opened the door for Rob to do what he had dreamed of doing, work in football. Held at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, the 10-week programme delivers crucial employability skills to participants and also provides the opportunity to take their FA Level One coaching qualification.
Enrolling on ‘My Future Goal’ was just the beginning for Rob. He had to work very hard to ensure he made a good impression.
“I participated with everything and gave 100%. I always arrived early and was one of the last to leave,” says Rob.
“The 10 weeks went really quickly and I knew this was a great opportunity to get a job so I tried really hard. Whatever the coaches said, went.”
Fortunately the end of ‘My Future Goal’ did not spell the end of Rob’s coaching ambitions. During the programme, participants were told that the Danny Fullbrook Fearless Foundation would provide funding for two Fearless Mentors to coach at the Foundation for three months.
“We were told that the Fearless Foundation had raised enough money to create two Fearless Coaching positions, to further support my development as a coach. As soon as I heard about the opportunity, I knew this was something I really wanted to do. I thought, I am going to get this.”
That is exactly what Rob did. And the journey did not end after the mentorship placement either. After completing the three months, Rob found himself inundated with work and fully immersed with Fulham FC Foundation.
“During the Fearless Coaching placement I was able to watch the best coaches take PE and social inclusion sessions. Because people got to know me, and I had really good feedback, I was put onto the rota as a sessional coach.”
“The Fearless Coach programme really helped me out as I wouldn’t have been able to get this many hours with Fulham if I hadn’t done it. It was a way in.”
In addition to providing Fearless Mentorships, Danny’s charity has also contributed to funding a number of FA Level One courses.
Deborah Searchwell, Employability Officer at the Fulham Foundation, sees first-hand the positive effects employability programmes have on young people struggling to get on the career ladder. She says one of the most important things about ‘My Future Goal’ is teaching young people to be realistic.
“Many of the participants have never worked before and are either in part-time or low level employment. ‘My Future Goal’ and the Fearless Coach programme give young people an idea of the employment opportunities out there,” says Deborah.
“We inject a healthy dose of realism so they can make informed decisions about their career and lifestyle. It is important to know they will not be on six figure salaries as coaches and that something on their CRB could stop them from coaching young people in the future.”
Through Fearless Foundation’s ongoing projects with the Fulham Foundation and Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, it is clear how powerful football is as a motivation tool for young people.
Whether it is in Brentford’s Griffin Park or Fulham’s Craven Cottage, NEET youngsters are often stimulated to study in an environment which is deeply connected to their passion for sport.
“It doesn’t matter if they get to meet the players, it’s the environment and the heavyweight brands these clubs have which create an exciting atmosphere,” says Deborah.
“They see people from brands like Adidas arrive at the same entrance they use to do a photo-shoot with players. This has an impact on these guys. This is an opportunity for young people that is unique and exclusive.”
Rob’s story at the Fulham FC Foundation is an uplifting one. And he shows no signs of slowing down.
“Everyone says it is so hard to get a full-time job in coaching but I’m living off it and doing it six days a week. I used to do seven!” says Rob.
“My main mission now is to get a full-time contract with the Foundation.”
Rob had wise words for the new group of ‘My Future Goal’ participants when he dropped in for a talk.
“Everyone has an opinion but you learn to adapt to it. The main thing about coaching is to adjust to your surroundings. Make things simple and have a can do attitude.”
“It is not about what other people think of you, you need to work hard for yourself.”
About Fulham Football Club Foundation:
Fulham Football Club Foundation is a leading community sport charity that aims to build better lives through sport. We use the power of sport to deliver a variety of inspiring education, health, disability, social inclusion and football programmes in our community.
As the Club’s own registered charity, we have played a key role in our community for over 20 years, employing over 100 full-time, part-time and sessional staff based from our Motspur Park office.
Our work aims to ‘build better lives through sport’ and we continue to pioneer innovative, engaging and inspiring programmes for many hard to reach and disadvantaged young people in our community.
Using the significant expertise of our staff, the exciting and engaging Fulham Football Club brand, alongside our committed and supportive players, our programmes consistently achieve amazing outcomes. We have seen increased participation in high-quality sport, an improvement in health and well-being of participants, which contributes to a reduction in youth crime and anti-social behaviour. Our achievements are impressive and include some of the following highlights:
• On average, we engage over 6,000 young people each and every month of the year in a variety of different programmes and activities.
• We pioneered the first accredited football business enterprise project in London, using Fulham FC to inspire and educate young people about the challenging world of business.
• Our flagship volunteering programme engages over 200 young people from diverse backgrounds. As a result, we became the first professional sports club in the UK to achieve the ‘Investing in Volunteering’ accreditation, demonstrating our commitment and expertise in volunteering.
• We continue to be at the forefront of Down’s syndrome football in the United Kingdom with our team, the Fulham Badgers, representing us in tournaments both at home and abroad throughout the year.
• Having piloted Kickz, a project that aims to create stronger communities by developing the skills of young people, this initiative continues to be one of our core projects.