Chance for Hackney youngsters to coach sport and gain life skills

Sport and education don’t always go hand in hand with teenagers, but a sports education programme for school leavers in Hackney is aiming to change that perception.

Offering courses for 16 to 18-year-olds, the 20-week programme starting on September 15 will give young people in the borough the opportunity to gain level one and two coaching qualifications, as well as BTECs and NVQs.

Run from the Forest Road Hub in Dalston, the Let Me Play programme will offer its students the chance to utilise their enthusiasm for sports in later life and much more besides, as tutor and coach Toby Sulaiman explains.

“It’s a coaching course and there’s loads of things you can learn from having to deliver sessions to young kids,” he said.

“So if you can get the attention of young kids there’s no reason why you couldn’t do that in a boardroom. We have a life skills folder, which teaches students how to manage expenses, hygiene, family and culture.

“We also have a coaching curriculum where they have to make their own sessions, to help lead them on to apprenticeships and work after they finish with us.”

Football, basketball, boxing, table tennis and badminton are among the sports available to prospective students, but opportunities are not limited to athletic pursuits.

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“We offer the chance for people to join the course and do work experience with the company, which sometimes has jobs available for them,” said Sulaiman. “Two of our previous learners work for the company now as assistant coaches.

“Part of the course is that they have to go on work experience, so when we do that, even if they’re not interested in sport, [the community-driven website] Young Hackney can take on the ones who want to do non-sporting things elsewhere.

“We’ve actually tied up a partnership with Young Hackney in which they have agreed to take our students on for apprenticeships.”

And the programme is not averse to offering sports beyond the mainstream.

“We know the main sports are football and basketball, but if there’s somebody in our group who wants to do something different then we will do that with the whole group,” said Sulaiman.

“For example, one of our students last year was in a wheelchair and he introduced [the Paralympic ball sport] boccia. Towards the end of the programme – even if he wasn’t coming in – people would still want to play it.”

For further information visit or call 0203 475 7511.