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boys playing football

14 September 2020

Today is the start of UK Coaching Week 2020 and a chance to celebrate and publicly thank all the people who help keep us active, connected and motivated. I want to coach is a thank you to all those young people developing themselves as the next generation of community and sport leaders. 

I want to coach… 

…Because, the power of sport, and how it can empower and motivate a community’

…So that, young people always have someone to go to and talk to’

…To, support young people who don’t find sports easy or as their outlet’

At London Youth, we know young people want opportunities outside school to have fun with their friends, to learn new skills, to make a positive change in their communities and to shape the city they live in. We also know that it’s the skill, creativity and passion of the thousands of youth workers and volunteers who enable young people to reach and fulfil their potential

What’s more, through our network of 600+ community youth organisations, supported by our Sport for Development programmes like Active Leads and Active Talent, we are committed to investing in young people with leadership potential. This is so they gain relevant employability skills, are able to explore their aspirations, and increase their confidence and motivations.

This is more important now than ever before:

  • 80% of young people reported that the Coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health (Young Minds)
  • Unemployment amongst 18 – 24 year olds could double to over 1 million in the next 12 months (Resolution Foundation)
  • 47% of 16 – 25 year old don’t feel in control of their lives (Princes Trust)
  • Young people are not being equipped with the skills and aptitude required to make them work ready upon leaving school, college or university, according to nearly half of all employers in research by the CBI
  • Physical literacy changes with age. The older you get, the less it seems young people report enjoyment, confidence, competence and understanding in terms of being active (Sport England)

I want to coach…‘to start thinking as a leader and teacher’ and ‘to work with different children and become a role model for them’.

Yet, despite the obstacle course of life young Londoners face, what I see is a generation of young people who are socially aware, who understand that by improving themselves they can improve others and that sport is a key tool to connect and grow a community. 95% of young people on our Active Talent programme responded that they felt sport can improve people’s lives and this rose to 97% in terms of sport as tool to bring communities together.

Young people are backing up these words with actions. Since May 2020, our Active Talent participants have invested 955 hours of their time on personal development, and in the first two years of our Active Leads programme, the young women racked up a total of 5,612 hours of volunteering, at an average of 63 hours each.

girl boxing

I want to coach…to help others develop while allowing myself to grow as a leader and person’ and ‘express my creativeness’

Back in December 2017, I was at the Royal Society for Public Health as London Sport released their Building a Workforce for the Future plan. I remember thinking quite simply, what does this actually mean for young Londoners and what can we do as London Youth? Nearly three years later, I think it can be broken down into two simple aspects:

  1. Relatable role models – ensuring young coaches/leader demographics became closer aligned to the participants they are supporting.
  2. Beyond just technical – equipping young coaches/leaders with the confidence and skills to create positive environments where all participants feel part of a team

Importantly, how are we at London Youth doing against these?

  1. Relatable role models (ethnicity and gender) – 70% of the emerging young leaders we are developing through our Active Talent programme are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. Our Getting Active programme in the last 12 months engaged 67% (1,502) young people from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities. 43% (Active Talent) and 100% (Active Leads) are young women. This balances up against the 44% (1,001) girls and young women we engaged through Getting Active.
  2. Beyond just technical (life skills) – from our midpoint surveys, 97% of young people on our Active Talent programme reported an increased understanding of how to use sport to help people positively interact with others who are different to themselves. 94% reported training completed had improved understanding of how to improve physical and mental health of people in their community. 87% reported developing their leadership skills.

I know we have more to-do and I also know we don’t have all the answers. That’s why my 2020 #GreatCoachingPledge is:

To ensure I keep actively LISTENING and HEARING the voices of young people and design programme opportunities with them, not for them

John Jones – Sports Development Manager


You can find out more about our sports programmes here.