“Believe and achieve”
10th Anniversary Graduate of the Month: September - Nana
To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Coach Core, we’re highlighting the story of a different Coach Core graduate every month
We want to recognise the hard work our apprentices put into their course and follow their journey to see what they achieve next.
Nana has been involved in elite level football from a young age, coming up through the academies at Southampton and Blackpool. When he wasn’t offered a professional contract, he knew that sport was something he wanted to stay involved in and looked to coaching. The Coach Core apprenticeship at Red Balloon Foundation in Essex allowed him to get that coaching experience and training, and gave him the flexibility to continue playing semi-professionally.
Kelly, Nana’s line manager and mentor at Red Balloon, has nothing but positives to say about him:
“When Nana first started he was a young man who hadn’t had much experience in a normal workplace, so he took a little bit of time to settle in, but very quickly he got it. And we realised very quickly what a gem he was, he was such a good find.”
Nana’s passion for his sport and his abilities as a coach were clear from the off, but he also dedicated himself to the education side of the apprenticeship as well as quickly becoming a hit with the children he worked with.
“If we could replicate him, we would. Everywhere he goes, the children are laughing and all you get now is ‘Where’s Nana? Is Nana coming back’ He makes a real impact with the kids he works with.”
Nana has impressed his employer so much that they have taken him on as an employee following his graduation, and are looking to take another Coach Core apprentice on in the next Essex programme. He’s having an immediate impact on the communities in which he works:
“He’s a Families Worker now, he’s out doing lots of different groups and sessions and he incorporates a lot of his sporting activities into his groups. He’s doing lots of outreach stuff, out on the streets meeting with kids – and that’s where he uses a lot of his sporting stuff, it’s a really good way to engage hard-to-reach young people.
One of the areas he worked in we’d been commissioned by the police and fire brigade to work in because there was a lot of anti-social behaviour. As part of the new commission we don’t have to work there anymore because the levels of anti-social behaviour have gone down so much.”
“He also does a lot of faith-based groups, he works at a church over in Ilford. They are creating a group aimed specifically at young black men and boys to give them good black male role models to work with and Nana is an integral part of that group.”
Nana hasn’t had a typical journey, or an easy one, battling with injuries and the mental challenges they bring to those trying to become elite athletes. But when talking about his experiences, Nana lights up. His passion and dedication to his work – whether as a footballer or a coach – is truly inspiring – and something he recognises:
'I hope to think I'd be a role model! I feel like if you're a coach, that's one of the things you need to be... I hope I do inspire them.'
Now thriving in his career Nana is looking ahead to even bigger things.