Three young sports coaches from South London enjoyed a special workshop in Manchester with Olympic taekwondo star Lutalo Muhammad after being supported for their tireless work in their communities.
Nineteen-year old Silas Paul-Johnson, 21-year-old Ibrahim Bah and Romari Doswell, 18, have been recognised for their volunteer work with selection for the new TSB Young Leaders programme, launched at Old Trafford this month.
Young Leaders nominated as part of the scheme were joined in Manchester by double Olympic medallist Muhammad, who posed for photos and took questions from the eager youngsters.
And for Ibrahim, who coaches at FC Jean Te Le, his journey into volunteering had always been clear.
“I got involved in coaching at 18,” he said. “I thought I could give back to the community, to people who didn’t have the help that I had on my sporting journey.
“I had some very good coaches to learn from, but also some people who weren’t so helpful to my journey in football. In the area I grew up in, there are lots of people who aren’t truthful in their development of young people.”
It is a similar tale for Silas, who volunteers at Southwark Tigers Rugby Club, understanding the importance of giving back to the community.
He said: “There’s an estate just by where they play and kids from there come in for sessions. They don’t have a lot of money so they come in for free.
“The ones that I coach, they are like me when I was younger. They come from the same upbringing and the same school, so it’s basically like teaching my younger self, if you think about it. They’re fun to work with and they’re an image of me, really.”
With the programme supported from TSB in partnership with Sport for Development charity, Sported, Burgess Sports, Southwark Tigers and FC Jean Te Le will benefit from unique training and development opportunities to support them in their leadership roles, in turn helping strengthen the community club and create even more opportunities for young people across South London.
The launch of the Young Leaders programme, which saw the youngsters participate in leadership workshops, media training and team building exercises, took place across two days at Manchester United’s iconic Old Trafford home.
The programme also rewards and supports the development of the next generation of volunteers, coaches and youth workers.
And for all three the event, and the recognition of their commitments, has been one to remember and a unique chance to meet other Young Leaders from around the country.
“It’s been great talking to the other Young Leaders,” said Silas.
“At my school, we didn’t meet so many different people from different places. It’s very good to see the energy and the ideas that people are coming up with.
“There are people here who are very confident when they speak and can brighten up a room as well. It’s awesome.”
Muhammad, Olympic silver medallist at Rio 2016, is an ambassador for the scheme, knowing just how important sport is in changing lives.
“Sport has played an integral role in my life,” he said. “I always feel like sport has been a great equaliser.
“I will tell the Young Leaders just to enjoy the journey.
“I think that’s the best piece of advice I ever received. Working in sport is very rewarding. So I would say try your best to enjoy the journey and know that it is all worth it in the end.
“Coaches and club leaders play an invaluable role in growth of sport, especially grassroots sport.
“I think at a young age, if it wasn’t for a coach believing in me and telling me that I can go all the way, I know for a fact I wouldn’t be here with two Olympic medals.
“I am very fortunate to be at the top of my sport and it all started because I had someone believe in me.”
TSB, in partnership with Sport for Development charity Sported, is proud to help local community groups across the UK use the power of sport to make a positive difference to young people and the communities they are part of. #TSBLocalPride