Garath McCleary recently paid a visit to a Prince’s Trust coaching course at the Reading Football Club Indoor Training Centre, run in conjunction with the Reading FC Community Trust. The partnership has been in existence for 9 years with the course helping those aged 16-25 who are Not in Education Employment or Training (NEET). The course helps the participants gain their FA Level 1 coaching badge, get them off the streets and onto a more positive path. This represents a unique and valuable opportunity for the young people that take part to gain a useful qualification and build confidence in their abilities. With two intakes a year in October and March, the week long course has helped over 100 young people gain the first coaching qualification on the FA’s coaching pathway. On receiving their coaching qualification, individuals have the chance to put their new skills into action through the Reading FC Community Trust’s coaching programme, with the possibility of securing a full-time role with the Trust.
Richard Witt, Social Inclusion Manager for the Trust spoke about how the course is a great way of engaging hard to reach young people in the local area, “It gives them (the participants) a chance to take part in sport, get motivated and raise self-esteem with a chance to get qualified and maybe gain employment with us at the football club.” With 12 apprentices already employed by the Trust, 9 of which have come directly from the Prince’s Trust course, it shows young people that if they focus and work hard there are opportunities for them.
No one knows more about the benefits of hard work and overcoming difficult situations than Reading’s Garath McCleary, who was on hand to speak about his experiences growing up in a questions & answer session with the Prices Trust group. “In terms of football I’ve been knocked back on numerous occasions, even from Reading when I was 16 I was told I was too small. Oxford United said when I was 18 that if I didn’t get the contract then I may as well give up so you’re always going to get knocked back, but if you 100% believe in yourself and you’re 100% committed then anything can be possible.” The 27-year-old was also quizzed by the group on what qualities the best coaches and managers he’s played under have had and he said “I think it’s definitely someone that will encourage and listen to whatever the players have to say, will be stern and strong with their thoughts but always want to listen to the players.”
The Reading number 12 was then asked about his favourite players, goal, and the toughest opponents he’s faced before signing autographs and posing for photos with the group. Speaking afterwards he reflected on the session saying “I think it’s brilliant what the club are doing with the Princes Trust and it’s something I would like to back and I look forward to hearing how it’s going.” While in terms of why he likes to come along to sessions like these the winger said “where I used to live there’s not many role models or many people that will come and speak to you so if there’s someone that can come in and give their experiences hopefully I can do that.”
With a return to first team action close, McCleary will be hoping he can get back to inspiring young people on the pitch as well as off it and keep showing that hard work and overcoming setbacks really does pay off.
For more information on the Princes Trust course and Reading FC Community Trust’s social inclusion programme please contact Richard Witt: firstname.lastname@example.org