“I feel proud of myself that after a one year apprenticeship I now have a permanent coaching role. I’m doing what I love, so I cannot complain!” says 19-year-old sports coach Amber Lloyd.
A few moments in Amber’s company and it is clear why she has become a permanent part of the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. She is passionate, with a fun nature, and a genuine enthusiasm for coaching and the community.
Amber’s relationship with Brentford goes back a long way. It started when she was 15 and chose the Trust for a work experience placement during school. Immediately the Trust realised Amber was not a talent they wanted to see walk out the door, and she was given the opportunity of do additional work for Paul Skelhorn, Brentford FC CST Communications manager. Amber quickly found herself becoming part of the Trust family.
“When Amber started with us, we could see that she had the confidence and enthusiasm to work across projects across the Trust. Even though she was on work placement, she applied herself and produced results you would expect of someone far more experienced,” says Paul.
Amber enjoyed her time volunteering at the Trust, but her dream was to become a full-time sports coach. She was certainly in the right place to make that dream a reality.
In 2013, The Brentford Trust committed to Amber’s future by offering her an apprenticeship. The funding was part assisted by The Danny Fullbrook Fearless Foundation – a charity who provide funding to develop coaches in West London. When Amber became a Fearless coach, the Fearless Foundation contributed funds for her apprenticeship.
“Before I was offered an apprenticeship at Brentford I was offered the opportunity to go to another coaching company,” says Amber.
“I didn’t look to do one at Brentford because I didn’t think there was an opportunity but then I heard they were able to offer me one which was brilliant because this is where I want to be.”
Amber is one of many positive examples of how the Trust helps young people into employment. Backing from organisations such as the Fearless Foundation has meant that even more young people are stepping onto the career ladder.
Brentford FC CST and the Fearless Foundation started working together in the summer of 2013. After the passing of well-known and respected sports journalist Danny Fullbrook, the Trustees of Danny’s charity were determined that money given in Danny’s name would provide work experience, apprenticeships and qualifications for young and inexperienced coaches.
On the union, Chief Executive of the Trust Lee Doyle said: “The support from the Fearless Foundation has enabled the Trust to develop young coaching staff to join our workforce. We have been able to offer a coaching pathway with young coaches mentored by our experienced coaching staff into delivering workshops and sports lessons.”
Fearless funding is also being used by the Trust to provide more sports sessions to local schools. The first school to benefit from these extra sports sessions was Hobbayne –the school where Danny’s son Edward attended. The sessions enabled more young people to enjoy sport at school and crucially gave Fearless coaches the opportunity to be trained up by experienced Brentford coaches.
Amber is excited about the future. She is making plans to do her youth modules and gain qualifications in netball and basketball.
“Amber has a bright future and it’s great to be able to say that the Trust is playing a part in the development of it,” says Paul Skelhorn.
Another strength which Amber brings to the Trust is her femininity. Coaching is still a male dominated profession but Amber’s employment is a step in the right direction.
“Most schools like it if there are male and female coaches. It is nice to have female coaches as I feel sometimes it is easier for the children to open up to a female coach about problems,” says Amber.
And if anyone is quick to make judgements based on gender, Amber firmly puts them in their place.
“Sometimes at school the boys will say ‘I don’t want a girl on my team, she can’t play football!” says Amber.
“I’m standing there as a football coach and player, so I question them, ‘Why do you think she can’t play? I’m a girl and I play for Brentford Ladies.’ After that they seem to be more understanding and it means girls are not put off from playing.”
Amber is always on the lookout for both male and female talent and can’t hide her excitement when she helps young people understand the rules of the game.
“Recently I was at a girls’ after school club for Year 6, and I desperately wanted them to learn and improve. At first they didn’t understand defending but then I took them through the steps and they suddenly understood. I saw that and I was like yes, yes, yes!”
“When I was younger I wasn’t given the opportunity to play enough sport. It was the Maths or English teacher who took PE and it was only for half an hour each week. Now I see how the kids’ faces light up when they realise Brentford Trust coaches are taking them for PE – it’s brilliant – they are so lucky!”