As the temperature starts to drop and the nights draw in, it’s prime time for Forge Sport to reach the young people of the city, showing warmth and kindness to those who just want an opportunity to play football and express themselves. This is the internship that I chose and which in turn chose me in September, at the start of my Form adventure. For me, it has the perfect mix of football and working with young people – combining a life-long passion with the new experience of youth work.
On Monday, I’m on hand at the recently established Forge North Football at Concord Sports Centre, in the Shiregreen area of the city. On Friday, I coach an under 18’s team in the Sheffield Christian Youth League (SCYL for short) at Goodwin Sports Centre, only 5 minutes from my house! Add in some office time at Philly on Wednesdays in between, helping Chris with admin for both projects, and hanging out with the wider Forge team, is what makes up a unique week of interning.
SCYL isn’t something new to me, after volunteering to help Ben and Chris on a few occasions over previous seasons, whether as a referee or helping organise and coordinate, or even with the tea! It’s a fantastic project, allowing teams aged 11 to 18 participate in a weekly five-a-side football league at a top facility in the city centre; reaching hundreds of kids and attracting support of some local businesses. I help a team in the highest age group, encouraging and giving advice from the side-lines. It’s great being involved this way and getting to know the guys on first name terms and having more meaningful conversations with them. It’s especially interesting work for me as I would consider going down the football coaching route in future and this internship is helping me realise this as a viable opportunity, by funding me through the FA’s football coaching level one award – the first step towards becoming a qualified coach.
Prior to the Forge Celebration in October, I was asked to write down the main reasons why I volunteer to do youth work. I felt God prompt me on this, reminding me that he has a plan for all young people, no matter where they live or what their respective backgrounds are. Coupled with this, I’ve seen how God can use the power of sport to bring communities together, putting their differences aside. Additionally, it can equip participants with important life skills like communication, leadership and teamwork – and not just about how well they can strike a ball! Looking ahead, I will test my skills by leading several Monday night sessions at Forge North Football to gain experience in leading a new Forge football project after Easter 2018. Exciting times ahead!
Written by James Radford