In January, with the support of London FA tutors Jamie Coyle and Dr Colin King, the London FA ran a Level 1 in Coaching Football course at HM Prison Thameside.
“It was a pleasure to engage and motivate a group of learners from a setting rarely entered; HM Prison Thameside. This is a male prison where 90% of prisoners are BAME, and 30% of this number are Muslim.
“Over five days, without access to power points and arrival activity aides, the spirit of life-long and reality-based learning comes to life. The Level 1 coaching badge was brought to a new wellbeing approach through the creative, imaginative and genius of the learners. The tasks the learners were set promoted positive images of self and led to a unique interpretation of new cultural games. Liberation, which was illustrated by a philosophy, enabled prisoners to become coaches within their own experiences. This licenced a freedom to bring vulnerability and an authentic link between practice and competition.
“The aim of the course was to break down gang culture and offer alternative career opportunities which could enable those labelled as mentally ill, socially dysfunctional and racially different, a new life. From the cramped classroom, to the church hall, to the gym, to the 4G pitch; the white middle-class privilege of choice and an educational system they had all experienced was forgotten. For many, this breaking down of barriers found in everyday life gave them the ability to get their first-ever qualification. The features of a new, empowering pedagogy are expressed through laughter, joy, peer learning, human growth and spiritual development rarely found on previous Level 1 courses. Their ‘Wembley’ comes alive as prisoners locked in cells watch the coaching; applauding and offering a reality to the match day.
“What emerges through the five days, from day one to the Safeguarding and Emergency First Aid workshops, was a vision of a new generation of truly equality thinkers. Jamie Coyle and Neil Fowkes, who organised the course, recognised competencies are focused on human development.
“As a coach educator of 25 years, having lived experience to the individual within this setting, such as a diagnosis of schizophrenia, several outcomes emerged: notably the importance of good wellbeing through checking in on peoples’ mental health. Coach education is not the property of the white middle-class researchers and educationalist. Coach education can contribute towards social and psychological change in the Four Corners in any setting as a drive of true equality.”
For more information on the FA Level 1 in Coaching Football course, please click here