USW: A once reluctant Foundation Degree student speaks of endless opportunities

Chanelle McManus, a USW (University of South Wales) Foundation Degree student at Preston North End, discusses the benefits of the education programme and how it’s opened new opportunities to her.

Known as ‘Nel’, the PNE student is a familiar face when Preston North End are out in the community; she is a regular deliverer of a variety of sessions – to providing national curriculum PE lessons in schools to primary school children, to overseeing walking football sessions to the over 50s, and it’s the natural variation and diversity of the job that saw Nel catch the ‘coaching bug’.

“I originally wasn’t going to carry on with education, just look to work my way through working as a casual coach,” said Nel.

“But having heard about the degree and how different it is to other courses with more practical modules, I decided to put myself forward. I’m obviously reaping the benefits now as I’ll hopefully have an extra qualification whilst doing the work in schools I would have been doing anyway.’’

The Foundation Degree that Nel fulfils, ‘Community Football Coaching and Development’ is delivered alongside the University of South Wales in partnership with the EFL Trust.

On the course, students like Nel are predominantly based at the football club’s facilities but will also attend a yearly residential at USW.

The course focuses on all aspects of children’s and youth coaching, football coaching, football development, social inclusion and sports management skills, allowing the student to study all sub-disciplines of coaching and football development.

The two-year course welcomes those who have completed the Level Three programme, as well as those who studied elsewhere such as a BTEC level three or three A Levels.

“Every day is different,” said Nel on working with the Preston North End Community and Education Trust.

“I’ve just come back from a school now and I had 20 kids in the entire school and I’ve never done that before, and later on I will go into a bigger school with more challenging children – every day is different.

“You can work in all sorts here; I do a nursery on a Wednesday then I’ll do walking football on a Friday so I’m literally involved in everything.

“I’ve always played football; I played for Preston North End WJFC up until open age so I’ve always played but it was when I did my work experience with Mel (Brown, Inclusion Manager) in high school where I got the bug for coaching.

“Now, I actually prefer coaching and developing players then playing it myself and I’ve actually given up playing now to concentrate on coaching as I didn’t have the time to do both.”

Nel’s roots of working in the community stem from working with Mel at an early age, but it was working with the Preston North End Community and Education Trust that saw her find out about the education opportunities that Preston North End provides to post-16 students.

She added: “I’ve enjoyed it after my first year so far. It’s very independent which is what I like as I like to go away and do it all in my own time and base it around my practical work.

“I’d certainly recommend the course but you’ve got to be committed and have a love of football to make the most of it.

“Because the course is independent, it’s easy for students to come onto the course and just not bother and not take the wonderful opportunities on offer, so you have to be committed.

“I make sure I go out of my way to take advantage of all the experience offered here. I do the walking football, I don’t need to do that but I took it upon myself to do that so I think you should just go for it and take advantage of the opportunities available.”

Nel is now looking at progressing from a casual coach into a full-time role at PNE or a similar capacity at another football club, a typical exit route that the degree provides.

“Hopefully there will be an opening here, told Nel – “Just so that I can continue working here, but in a full-time capacity and just keep doing what I’m doing. I love what I’m doing now, but I want to do it full-time eventually.

“I’ve always been a PNE fan so that’s always been a bonus. I’ve been given the opportunity to work match days and I’ve met the players and the manager whilst doing the birthday parties so that’s always a bonus for me.”

To find out more about Preston North End Community and Education Trust visit: https://www.pnefc.net/PNECET/

To find out more about the USW ‘Community Football Coaching and Development’ course visit: http://www.efltrust.com/communityfootballdegree/