A young jobseeker from Surrey has secured a dream coaching job at AFC Wimbledon Foundation through the government’s Kickstart scheme.
Maddi Sweetman, 22, of Timbercroft, was supported by work coaches at Epsom Jobcentre Plus to land the Kickstart position with the League One club she has supported since she was a child.
Sweetman completed her placement and was offered the opportunity to stay on at the club.
She said: “To be able to have an opportunity – not only at the club I love – but just to get my foot in the door for a career in football is so fantastic.
“I’m so excited to get involved around the community.
“Helping is my passion, and to know everything I am doing is for a good cause – I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Sweetman struggled with her mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic after becoming unemployed.
This made it difficult for her to secure employment.
She said: “My mental health has always been a struggle.
“Finding a job is so much harder when you believe you’re not good enough.”
However, Sweetman’s supportive work coaches convinced her to apply for Universal Credit.
Her persistence was rewarded when she received an interview for the coaching position.
A Flexible Support Fund payment enabled her to buy new clothes for the interview and she was offered the job the next day.
She said: “Between me and my family, we could’ve filled a swimming pool with tears!”
Kickstart aims to help young people aged 16 – 24 on Universal Credit find employment.
The initiative offers youths six-month work placements, with wages of up to 25 hours a week being fully paid by the government.
Sweetman learned the skills needed to pursue a career in football coaching during the placement and received Mental Health, First Aid, and Domestic Violence training.
She made a profound impact throughout the placement, using her drive and ambition to help younger people with their mental health.
This resulted in her being kept on to complete a two-year apprenticeship at AFC Wimbledon Foundation.
Community development manager Fiona Sutherland said: “Maddi has been a pleasure to work with since day one.
“Her enthusiasm is contagious, and passion inspiring.
“We are so pleased to have her on the team and can’t wait to see how she continues to grow and develop throughout her career with us.”
AFC Wimbledon Foundation was formed in 2013 and is a community-oriented branch of AFC Wimbledon.
Credit: AFC Wimbledon Foundation