Behind Every Kick: James Mckoy and Ryan Giggs

Behind Every Kick began as a sport volunteering pilot project based in Hackney. The below interview with project manager Jason McKoy was published in November 2016, and since then the project has expanded to run across London and Hertfordshire. To see more about the project as it runs currently, please visit the project page.

Communications Manager Kate Bermingham spoke to Behind Every Kick’s new project manager Jason McKoy to find out more…

Kate: What can young people in Hackney gain from getting involved with Behind Every Kick (BEK)?

Jason: Well, the guys currently taking part in the project are already benefiting from an excellent football programme delivered by Badu Sports and supported by Sporting Hackney. Along with a structured training programme, the coaching staff are skilled at using the sessions to develop transferable skills such as time-keeping, preparation and communication skills.

Lane 4 coming in to deliver bi-monthly personal and team development sessions is a real bonus for the team. This is the organisation that is currently working with the England national team along with other high profile clients. Add a skilled, trained and dynamic mentor to the mix and it’s easy to see how the young people will be receiving excellent support. This support enables them to explore their next steps and develop into rounded young men working to achieve their goals…

Kate: What’s the situation now, are you looking to recruit more young footballers, volunteer mentors, or both?

Jason: The team’s squad is pretty much in place now, so we are not recruiting more players at this time. Our focus is now on the recruitment of a great bank of volunteers to become mentors to individual players in the team. I’ve been getting to know the players and, as well as demonstrating their talent for football, they’re a great group of young men with different aspirations of what they want to become in life. They are all studying for their GCSEs, so the right mentor could be really beneficial for them at this crucial life stage.

Kate: Tell me a bit more about the volunteer mentor role.

Jason: Mentors will be required to meet with their mentee at least twice a month. If the relationship is working well, they’ll be encouraged to meet more. We are looking for interesting and dynamic mentors over the age of 21. A sporting background would be helpful but not essential. A good understanding of the issues facing young people living in inner London areas (like Hackney) would also be helpful.  We’re looking for mentors who can be positive role models and can draw on their own personal experiences to help their mentee.

Kate: What inspired you to take on the role of project manager for Behind Every Kick?

Jason: My background is in football and I’ve also worked extensively in Sport for Development with a number of projects both home and abroad. I’m a massive believer in the use of sport, specifically football, to engage young people and adults from a variety of backgrounds.

Once the connection through football is made, it’s possible to build and introduce a number of concepts and activities for the benefit of those involved. Whether it’s getting a young person back on track, back into education, training or employment, or improving their understanding of a particular issue, I’ve seen football used as a catalyst for this development to great success. I firmly believe the BEK pilot will be no different and look forward to seeing its success and expansion.

Kate: What are you hopes for this pilot project?

Jason: First and foremost, I hope that the young people benefit from the programme and find it to be valuable in terms of their personal development and growth.

Hopefully the success of the pilot will lead to its replication beyond Hackney. We’d like to see the project expand to include other parts of London and the UK. We are also considering a girls only programme. We want to reach as many young people as we can, and provide them with the best possible experience of team sports and mentoring.