From his own days on the pitch, where coaches taught him to set goals and be confident in himself, to now providing football coaching to children in his home district of Peckham, Mulenga Chafilwa is learning to make a difference.
As a youngster growing up in a rough neighbourhood in Peckham, the community football club, run by the Greenhouse Sports charity, was one of his only outlets.
Now, nine years on, Chafilwa is giving back to the charity that gave him so much, coaching his own sessions having gone through their Coach Core programme and gained his NVQ Level 2 and 3.
“It was an amazing opportunity because I can now see firsthand how the coaches engage with the children, and giving back to the community have been a really inspiring opportunity for me,” he said.
“Because I came to Greenhouse Sports at quite a late age, and I’ve gone through the journey of participant to coach, the participants now get to know me and they can relate to me.
“Most of the kids come up to me with big dreams, big ambitions, they want to do big things in sport, and because I wanted the same thing as well, we’re like-minded people and I think that helps when I’m coming to coach.
“The participants really aspire to achieve great things.
“It’s great to give that back to the participants and say ‘I was just like you guys’.
“If I can do it then they can, and that is an amazing opportunity within itself for me, the fact that I can give something back and show the kids can they can aspire to do great things as well.
“I’d like to think the kids see me as a bit of a role model!
“They’re always asking me questions, and asking what they can do to become a coach too.”
Earlier this year Chafilwa got the opportunity to meet Sir Bradley Wiggins at the Olympic Park as Greenhouse Sports partnered with Prudential RideLondon, to launch their new 46-mile event.
Chafilwa will ride the event this weekend, with other Greenhouse Sports participants, and after returning to the park for a recent training day, he cannot wait to get going out on the roads of London.
“It was absolutely amazing to meet Sir Bradley Wiggins,” added Chafilwa. “He’s very down to earth, and one thing he told us was that the route from being an amateur to a professional is just how you carry yourself, and that really stuck with me.
“The fact that he can say that he’s maintained who he is throughout his journey, I think that’s a real testament to what he’s done and it really rubs off on the participants as well.
“I’m so excited for the event, I’ve been training every day and the participants always see me on my bike cycling to and from work.
“I think it’s going to be an amazing opportunity and I’m going to give it my all. It’s my first time cycling so I had to take it in steps, but I believe I’ve built myself up to a standard where I’m able to compete and I’m looking forward to it.”
Follow first-time charity riders on their journey to the start line at pru.co.uk/inspire