Interview with former apprentice Kira Philpott

Apprentice, Mentor, Uni Grad, Coach - Kira tells her story

By James Burbidge · 29th July 2020

Kira Philpott started on a Coach Core apprenticeship with the Welsh Rugby Union back in 2016. We caught up with her recently to reflect on that experience and find out what she’s been doing since.

Can you tell us how you first heard about Coach Core?
I first heard about Coach Core when I was selected for the WRU Rugby Development Apprenticeship when I was 18.

How was your experience of the Coach Core apprenticeship? What were the highlights? What parts about it did you find hardest?
The apprenticeship was an amazing experience that put me in great stead for university and a career in sport development. Number one highlight for me was to work in partnership with the British and Irish Lions as a Home Ambassador for Wales; during my time in this role I organised an inclusive rugby festival for children in Special educational needs schools which was so rewarding and so much fun! Personally for me, refereeing was the hardest part of the apprenticeship, considering I’ve played rugby since I was 16 it’s quite obvious that the laws were beyond me!

After you finished as an apprentice, you returned to Coach Core to mentor other apprentices – why did you choose to do that?
I found that my mentors Anthony Palmer and Carl Scales had a huge positive impact on me when I was an apprentice. They helped me find a new level of confidence and encouraged me in every aspect of my work. I decided that if I could do for others what they both did for me then I’d be doing something right!

Did you get any different insights from being a mentor?Two Coach Core apprentices stand in training field
In my role as a mentor, pastoral care is my number one priority with regards to my apprentices. An insight I’ve gained is that mental health problems in young people is a major concern. So it’s really important to listen to people, support them and give them a safe space to talk about their thoughts and feelings. I didn’t quite understand this until I became a mentor.

Following your apprenticeship you embarked on a Sport Management degree (congrats on your recent graduation!) – can you tell us what factors went into that choice?
I decided to go to Cardiff Metropolitan University to study Sport Management once my apprenticeship ended. This was not a decision I made lightly, it took a lot of encouragement from my mentors and reassurance that I could handle it. My mother was so pleased that I chose to go to uni, I tried my best to convince her that an apprenticeship is a great stepping stone from 6th form to university and it was! By doing the apprenticeship I knew I wanted to work in sport, where as if I went to uni straight from 6th form I would’ve probably studied and dropped out of a police sciences degree.

How did you find the degree, and Uni life? Did your Coach Core experience give you any advantages or different perspectives in your degree?
I definitely didn’t make things easy for myself at uni, I undertook a full time degree whilst working part time for the Welsh Rugby Union as a mentor and one day a week for Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby as a Regional development officer for Wales. I was also playing club rugby, 7s and regional rugby throughout the 3 years. But I made it work and came out with a 2:1 which I’m so proud of!

I do think the apprenticeship gave me an advantage as I had knowledge and understanding of working for a sporting NGB and a taste of the “real world” this gave me confidence when speaking in lectures/seminars as I was speaking from experience.

What comes next for you?
I am happy to say I’ll be continuing with the WRU as a mentor and GBWR as a RDO.

Are you coaching at the moment? Can you tell us about that?
At the moment my coaching is primarily through wheelchair rugby, which I love! You meet so many fantastic people through the sport, there’s a real family feel with in the Welsh clubs and there’s plenty of exciting things on the horizon for Wheelchair Rugby in Wales!

What about your own sporting endeavours?
I’m currently playing in the women’s premiership with my club Llandaff North, playing 7s for Ponty Butchers and regional rugby for Cardiff Blues. I can’t imagine my life without it, the friends you make in rugby are friends for life.

What do you think the future of the community coaching sector looks like?
More diverse! That’s what I’d hope for, coaches are role models in every sense of the term, so in inclusive rugby in particular having coaches with disabilities leading sessions, getting qualified and being supported throughout this process would be great.

Any advice for someone considering a Coach Core apprenticeship?
What are you waiting for? This is an amazing opportunity to earn while you learn, meet new people, gain confidence, have amazing experiences and create your own path! It’s life changing!

Thanks Kira!

You can follow Kira on twitter, and find out more about Coach Core apprenticeships here. To get the latest news and stories from Coach Core, sign up to our newsletter below.

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