Zain Does It Again!

*It being everything! We revisit the winner of last year's Apprentice of the Year, Zain and find out what he's been up to.

By Belinda Bradley · 14th December 2023

In our last awards, Zain was recognised for his incredible work with Sport Birmingham. He was given the Apprentice of the Year award for increasing engagement and incredible leadership. After nearly a year, a lot has happened so we caught up with him to bring you this exclusive interview:

‘My name is Zain and I’m now the Community Engagement Officer for the OCF, Central Heart Community Foundation and enjoy it very much.

I started a few months ago so I’m just settling in. It was a new environment for me! In my apprenticeship I’d be doing a lot of everything, admin, working in schools and supporting young people but in this new job I’m mainly working in Youth Clubs and developing on sessions I ran previously. The apprenticeship definitely helped me land this role as it helped my develop my CV and experience. I used all of the skills I picked up in my apprenticeship everyday.

My day-to-day involves running of running sports and activities and helping groups in my community. We do things like table-tennis and dodgeball and working with children with special educational needs and disabilities. It’s very much up to what the young people want to do. We often run a ‘big’ activity or team games too, which they absolutely love. Once a week we have a bigger event and I’ll support professionals to deliver these to the community, such as squash or specific sports.

My advice for future apprentices is "Listen to your tutors, have trust in them and you'll pass with flying colours."


The biggest change from my last role is how my responsibility has shifted from being an apprentice. I used to have a lot of support and people to look up to but now people are coming to me for help. I did plan on staying with Sport Birmingham but I didn’t want to lose any opportunities so went for my current role instead. Sport Birmingham have said they’d welcome me back if it lines up again and I still help them out occasionally!

All of the tricks I’ve learning in my apprenticeship, I use in my every day role. They’ve changed the way I coach. On day one of my apprenticeship, my confidence was very low and I’d even struggle to do this interview! I was very shy and I didn’t want to do events. Now I want to do all of the events and enjoy meeting new people. If I didn’t have the apprenticeship, I reckon I’d continue volunteering with MAD and stay in sports somehow, but I’d have no clear path or be the person I am today.

I really didn’t expect to win Apprentice of the Year in 2022, I felt like all the apprentices deserved it, they all had struggles and worked their way up – the apprenticeship was a blessing for us all so I was shocked. Everyone at work was buzzing when I won and we had celebrations when I came back. My family were very proud. I had done about 4 years of engineering before I swapped to sports so at first they were disappointed but after the awards, they were telling all of their friends and taking me out for dinner. I’ve been lucky to go to have been nominated for a lot of awards since, ones where people come from all over the UK. I’m looking forward to attending big ceremonies in 2024.

Looking back on the apprenticeship, the training days were my favourite where we’d be taught new games to deliver and even our tutors would take part. I actually thought we’d have more class-room based learning in the apprenticeship which wasn’t the case, so I was happy because I prefer the hands-on delivery side of thing!

Dave my tutor was amazing and so was Gareth, and I had help from Callum at Sport Birmingham who actually told me to come to the open day for Coach Core and was my role model. Liam my line manager was always supporting me too. During my apprenticeship I was always pushed to develop myself and really supported. I still play football with them all and stay in touch. I know if I messaged anyone at Coach Core still, they’d be happy to respond. They are the type of people that care and will try to help if they can.’


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Read about last year's awards

Enjoyed Zain's story? Look back at the rest of the winners here

Who won last year?