Fast Feet Football Academy was formed in January 2013 by Mark Rutter with the aim of helping children maximise their potential and become as comfortable and competent with the football as possible. They deliver coaching sessions that are suitable for all ages and abilities, ranging from beginners to Elite Academy players, from age 3 to 16. Players are encouraged to express themselves, be creative and most importantly, to be instinctive and spontaneous in their play. They currently deliver region wide to over 1000 children and players per week via Educational partnerships and private evening academy sessions.
Emma Kirby, 19, completed her Level 1 Football Coaching Award at Durham Football Association in September 2016. After completing her qualification, Emma secured a Sports Coaching apprenticeship at Fast Feet based in Houghton-le-Spring. We spoke to Emma about her experience of the role and her career goals…
How did you find out about the apprenticeship at Fast Feet?
I found out about the apprenticeship from my manager Mark, who was working at the college at the time. He asked if I was interested and I thought about it for a while then decided to go for it. Mark gave me the details and helped me through the application process from there.
What was the application process like?
I was already working for Fast Feet at the time and I’d been doing well, which is why Mark put me forward. To make sure I got the apprenticeship, I just had to keep working hard to make sure I kept doing well in my role at the time. I really enjoy it, which helps a lot.
What is a normal day like in your role?
Most days I go to a primary school to do a lunch time session with the children. We have a little match for about half an hour over their lunch break, year 1 up to year 6 can take part. In the afternoon, I come back to the office and do some general admin, which includes things like answering phones and updating scores for our Footwork Challenge. Later on, I go to an academy match session with older children.
My hours can be quite flexible. Normally I work Monday to Saturday 12.30 – 8pm, or 9-5 if I’m doing office work all day. If I need to change my days or if I need some time off at a specific time, they’re usually okay with it.
What do you enjoy most about it?
I like getting out and about, meeting different people and working to help children be more active and improve as players. I go to different places throughout the week, so I don’t feel like I spend too much time in an office. The workload is the right amount, I don’t feel like I’m put under too much pressure. It’s an active role, but I wouldn’t say it’s stressful at all. I always enjoy every day at work and feel like I’m valued within the team. If I’m given something to do, I’m always able to answer any questions I have and they always make sure I’m comfortable with it. I really like the people I work with as well, there’s a good mixture of new people like me and more experience people who can help you. At the moment, we have about 12 people in our team including 8 coaches.
Why did you feel that an apprenticeship was more suitable for you?
I feel like I’ve been given a better idea of what it’s like to do the job. I’ve always wanted to be a coach and my apprenticeship has given me an insight into what that would be like and helped me to see that it would be possible to do that in future. I’ve also gained a lot of experience that I wouldn’t have had if I’d taken another route. In this type of role, practical experience is really important and I gain more every day. My apprenticeship has improved my confidence a lot, six months ago before I started there is no way I would have been able to work with a team of children on my own – now I love it!
What are the most valuable skills you have learned as an apprentice?
I’ve built my coaching skills up a lot and I know more about working with children and speaking to new people and parents. I feel like it’s given me a lot more confidence in myself as a person as well.
How often do you spend with tutors at college?
I go into college to have a meeting with my tutor regularly, just to check that everything is okay and to work through my work book. He’ll mark what I’ve done so far then give me a new piece of work. Most of the tasks are individual, I can just get on with them myself, others I need to ask for feedback from other people about my performance to hand back to my tutor.
What could it lead to in future?
I’d like to stay with Fast Feet because I really like it here. The last apprentice in my role stayed at Fast Feet for a while after his apprenticeship ended, so I’m hoping I can do the same. My apprenticeship will last until September 2017 but I might be able to extend it beyond that date. If there’s a full time, permanent job to apply for, I’d definitely be interested. If I can do that, I’ll have a chat with Mark to see what he thinks and we’ll go from there. The apprenticeship has definitely made it a lot easier to move forward.
It’s opened doors to other opportunities as well, not just coaching. So, if there was nothing available at the end of my apprenticeship, I’ve also gained skills in administration and I enjoy that part of the role as well.
What or who inspires you?
I would never say it to his face, but probably Mark! He’s helped me a lot from starting college to now in every area; as a player, as a person and as a coach as well. He never gives up on you if you fail, he won’t let you give up either. He’s always there to keep pushing you forward and build your confidence. He’s always encouraging me to try new things in the role to help me get the most out of it.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of applying for an apprenticeship?
Just go for it, you never know how it’s going to go but if you never try then you’re never going to succeed. Just try your best in everything you do and you’ll do well, that’s all they can ask from you. It’s definitely worth it, I wish I’d been able to do it earlier.
See the full list of our apprenticeship vacancies here.