I thought he was insane, I didn’t have any skills! But he convinced me to keep trying and told me to come along to a couple of other open sessions he was running.
He said I didn’t have to pay anything, said that if I needed help with transport then the centre could help provide it and so he made it hard for me to say 'no'.
He even said that if I changed colleges, to one where he coached, I could bring my work so I didn’t have to start again.
He was so positive and before I knew it, the basketball community in Bristol just opened up to me.
Going to City Academy gave me so many more opportunities. The academic side of things was still good, and in terms of the actual sport, I was all in. I got opportunities, not only to join the team but to play in games.
That might seem like something little but I never got that in football, I never got that in the previous college, or academies, or clubs I tried to join.
I thrived on that and I brought that energy and motivation back to the youth centre and wanted to volunteer and do more for them.
University and Coach Core
University may not have worked out for me. I seemed to do OK with the academic side of things, but the pressures of the student life in general really got to me.
It built up so much depression in me and I eventually found that uni wasn’t doing me any good, I was in a dark place.
But even during that time I’d still found basketball to be a great release for me, and my tutor had highlighted that I seemed to enjoy coaching and teaching – passing on knowledge.
That stuck with me and when I left uni, I went back to Bristol and was looking around for jobs – looking everywhere – my friend eventually found an advert for Coach Core that sounded perfect for me.
Right from the introduction session it felt right.
My mentor, David Smith, made it such an easy and supportive transition for me to become a part of Coach Core.
He helped me a lot and regardless of everything else, he made sure we all got an equal opportunity – it was a really positive experience for me.
I don’t have a single negative thing to say about Coach Core, they gave everyone a chance and I’m now an assistant manager for Shine – a job I got straight after completing my apprenticeship because I was on placement there – because of their desire to give everyone a chance.
That’s why we need more things like Coach Core, why we need Sport England to continue to support things like this that allow people the opportunity to find out that there’s more to life than hearing 'no'.
Shine employs qualified coaches to deliver sport and physical activity sessions at state, private and special schools across the south west. And Coach Core is an apprenticeship scheme giving young people aged 16-24 the chance to become the next generation of inspirational coaches.