06 June 2022
I’m London born, bred, and educated; south London runs through my veins. I understand the barriers faced by inner-city young people growing up, simply because I have lived it. I see the lack of facilities or access for young people and it is frustrating. Even worse, it is often the same people who make the decisions to tear down playgrounds asking why we have so much knife crime. It’s a vicious circle. But breaking the cycle is my mission.
In 2010, I started a grassroots community basketball club – Southwark Storm – through which I secured funding for projects in schools, colleges and youth centres across London. Trying to find full-time roles in sports was hard, so I did any role that kept me in and around sports. I worked in schools doing all types of jobs.
I love working with young people because every day is different – they keep you on your toes. After coaching in schools and developing Southwark Storm (which I still run today), I became frustrated that I could not progress in my professional career. So, I went back to university, then to work in the City. I learned a lot and enjoyed the benefits of working in the corporate world, but the ‘suit and tie’ life was just not for me. I knew what I wanted to do, but I had no clue what I needed to get there after years of rejection.
I decided to move to America. Coaching basketball had always been my side-hustle, but now I was going to coach full-time. Nine months coaching in the US was an amazing experience. It gave me confidence to return to the UK where I started a full-time coaching job as Head Basketball Coach for the Greenhouse Sports charity. My focus was to increase participation and developing best practice both on and off the court.
When I’m stopped in the street by a young person I used to coach or teach, and they are fully grown and bearded, I love the fact that they still remember me. To hear I supported their development, and taught them life-skills that will stay with them forever makes it all worthwhile.
Moving on to something new
Although I love to coach, there is only so long you can be running around after the kids. I was determined to reach my goal being a Sports Development Officer, so I continued to apply for relevant roles. Finally, London Youth, a great organisation that shares my values, gave me the opportunity. It’s been a very long journey, but the sportsman inside of me did not allow me to give up on my goal.
It is now, more than ever, that young people need our support, and through my work here at London Youth, I hope to support and give opportunities to enrich their lives and give our young people a brighter future.
This is the way.
– Carl Reid, Sports Development Officer