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For 23 years, Ignite Sport coaches have supported the provision of grassroots sport in school and community environments and engaged people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.
Ellen Hopkins joined our team as Lead Coach in August 2021 after working with the Football Association as a Development Officer and a Football Coach with UK Elite Soccer in New York and Seattle.
She’s now responsible for our primary school PE and after-school club delivery, Oxford City’s development centre, Wildcats Girls Football and our popular holiday camps.
No two days are the same as an Ignite Sport coach, but Ellen documented a typical Monday to demonstrate how our countywide work to inspire people through sport operates.
We dedicate our mornings to planning. I don’t think we can stress enough how important this part of the day is to any sports coach.
To make our sessions and programmes inclusive and suitable for participants of all abilities, it’s important we identify how we can adapt sessions to make everyone feel involved.
I’ll work with an Ignite Sport apprentice who will assist me during this hour to put a session together, within which we’ll discuss an area they can focus on to benefit our delivery and their development.
9am – 11am
We’ve planned the session following prior consultation with the school, now it’s time to deliver it.
When setting up, we check all the equipment we’ve packed and that the area we are working in is safe. Sessions typically last an hour, after which we’ll reflect what happened with a teacher or PE coordinator.
We’ll discuss positives from the session, plus areas we can work on and how our next visit can continue to assist with participants’ overall development. It’s also a chance for our apprentices to reflect on how the session went, what they feel went well and how they could improve their delivery.
As coaches, we’re continually striving to deliver the highest quality programmes. Personal reflection is important, particularly if we’re working with the same group over a term.
12pm – 2pm
With COVID-19 restrictions now easing, we’re experiencing an increase in demand for assembly visits in schools across the Thames Valley.
On any given weekday, myself and a colleague will deliver a tailored assembly often hooked on a school’s term value such as mental strength and resilience or inspiration.
The overall goal is to inspire children through sport and how the stories of inspirational athletes can be linked to pupils’ work and development in the classroom. As a number of Ignite coaches play elite level sport, we’ll often use their role model status to support our key messages.
2pm – 4pm
20% of my employment with Ignite Sport is dedicated to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) via a Level 4 Sports Coach apprenticeship.
Before joining Ignite, I secured my FA Levels 1 and 2 coaching badges and a UEFA B licence. My work in America meant I never went to university, so I’m using an apprenticeship to support the gaps in my understanding and knowledge of my role.
Studying an apprenticeship is really beneficial. Each week, my course tutor Wayne Goss will deliver group and one-on-one based sessions where I can learn and share ideas with other sports coaches working for different organisations across the UK.
My area of strength is football, this apprenticeship is giving me a greater understanding of multi-sport delivery and the theory behind it.
Rest of the week
That’s a typical day for me! Responsibilities through the remainder of the week vary from coaching in Oxford City FC’s development centre to leading Wildcats Girls Football sessions.
Sports coaches are in a very privileged position to have the power to inspire the next generation. Growing up, my first football sessions and coaches helped me develop the skills required to represent my local team where I developed key life skills I still apply today.
It’s a great profession, and I would encourage anyone interested in a fun, varied and challenging career to consider getting their coaching badges.