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Our Ambassadors

Here to help us communicate the many benefits of coaching

Great coaching happens around us every day, in many different settings. Our Coaching Ambassadors use their passion and skills to influence and help others recognise the enormous benefits great coaching has on people’s lives across the UK.

Meet the people who are helping us to raise the profile of great coaching:

Anna Jackson

“The better coaches are the ones who see coaching as a whole package,” says former British wheelchair basketball player, Anna Jackson, “it’s not just about the sport on the court or the pitch; it’s about bigger things.” 

Anna knows only too well what those ‘bigger things’ can entail. From playing and coaching hockey; to disabling leg injuries; to experiencing depression; to falling in love with wheelchair basketball; to playing for Great Britain; to becoming head coach of Cheshire Phoenix Wheelchair Basketball Club, Anna’s sporting journey has been quite the rollercoaster.

A passion for coaching and playing hockey developed through school and into her university years, but knee problems, which started as a teenager, brought everything to a halt. Extensive cartilage damage meant several surgeries, and although Anna’s right leg recovered, her left didn’t fare so well. Constant pain and muscle malfunction meant she was unable to stand for any length of time or run anymore.

But then she discovered wheelchair basketball and within six months was called up to compete for Great Britain at the 1998 World Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Sydney. What followed was a ten year tenure with the British Wheelchair Basketball team – winning 70 caps, several medals and the right to represent ParalympicsGB at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games.

“I remember my first session, I turned up not knowing anything about basketball, but I got in a chair and just loved it straight away. I didn’t have to worry about my legs, I could just play sport. “I still find it incredible that I was out there competing for Great Britain at the Paralympics. When I see my kit it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The attitude [towards disability sport] in Australia was miles ahead of where we were then. They were filling the stadiums for every game, and as an athlete wherever you went you were getting mobbed for autographs,” said Anna.

Eventually the toll of travelling around the world for competitions, relentless training commitments and a body that was taking longer to recover, influenced Anna’s decision to retire from international wheelchair basketball. Having coached a little whilst playing for Great Britain, she then turned to clubs local to her base in Chester in order to hone her craft.

As head coach of Phoenix, it’s probably the first time I’ve thought ‘right this is what I wanted to do’. It’s about everybody getting involved, everybody enjoying it and performing to the best of their ability

“There are two players at the club whose lives have massively changed in the last 12 months, from not going out much, not doing a lot, really struggling with their mental health, to now going out, training and trying other disability sports. Their confidence, not just on a basketball court, has changed massively, and that’s so satisfying. Sometimes that’s the bit some coaches forget, that you can have that impact off the court.

“It’s just about showing players some belief and helping them through that journey; you can give them the confidence they can take through to anything,” said Anna.

Recently, Anna has been named as the assistant coach to the Wales U19 team and runs a very successful women’s team called Angels of the North. She is also a mental health first aider and is studying at Cheshire College South and West for a Level 1 Award in British Sign Language.

As an ambassador, Anna wants to help shape the future of coaching by getting involved in coach development and tutor roles.

Charm Daley

Charmaine Daley is a Nottingham based Zumba® coach, who has an infectious zest for life. But she wasn’t always this way. Throughout her 30s, Charm was made redundant three times, something she took incredibly personally.

With two young children, Charm and her partner were struggling to pay the bills, and at the same time, she was battling against post-natal depression, actively seeking psychiatric help and using anti-depressants to cope with, as she frankly puts it, ‘hating herself’.

 “I was quite down in the dumps about myself and had put on a lot of weight as well through pregnancy. I had some psychiatric help which was quite a big wow for me because that’s when I realised that it had hit the fan. I’d always been in to dance and then somebody said to me about trying Zumba®.” 

After deliberating for nine months about whether to attend a Zumba® class, Charm threw caution to the wind and went along to a session. At the class, Charm experienced what she calls her ‘light bulb’ moment. As she looked around she saw women of all shapes, sizes and abilities having a great time exercising.

Not only was I happy, but for the first time in a long time I laughed. Proper belly-laughed. I felt like I just found me all over again. There was that part of me that had been dormant for years and I felt like I’d found that piece of me I didn’t know how to retrieve back.

Following the class, Charm went home ‘absolutely buzzing’, and feeling empowered to exercise decided to use the rest of her redundancy money to retrain as a Zumba® instructor, she has now coached Zumba® in Nottingham for the past six years, losing three and a half stone and gaining a renewed sense of confidence and feeling about herself.

“I realised the benefits it had given me, raising my confidence and increasing my self-esteem. I just felt happier about myself. What I wanted to do was go on and inspire other women, who were perhaps in that same place and [say to them that] actually, exercise is relevant and here is your licence to be able to go and do that in a safe place that’s empowering, non-judgemental, warm and welcoming. I just find that what I do is a real privilege because there are so many women who come to my classes that are in a similar place to where I was when I first started and it’s a treat to see them just unfold in front of me. The expressions on their faces it’s almost like they can’t quite believe they are doing what they are doing.”

David Walsh

For Derbyshire coach David Walsh, growing up was difficult. Without a positive male role model in his life, as a teenager he was getting involved in anti-social behaviour. But then he started volunteering at his local youth engagement session and realised: rather than causing trouble, he could make an impact in his own community and change young people's lives.  

“The community coaches who ran the sessions inspired me to get involved in coaching. The current managing director of Sporting Communities, Ben Rigby, then offered me a job and I have committed myself to coaching ever since.” 

Originally from Alvaston, David has been coaching for 10 years and currently works for Sporting Communities as their development officer for Derbyshire, coaching a variety of sports.

“By using sport as a tool to impact the community, I have inspired young people to achieve their potential – whether that's joining a local team/club; having a healthy lifestyle; or gaining employment. I want to help as many people as possible make the right choices in life.”

In 2017, at the 20th UK Coaching Awards, David was named Children's Coach of the Year for his pioneering physical activity and social development projects. One of his innovations: ‘Cook, Eat, Play’, targets children who are on free school meals, or whose families access food banks. The scheme, which has so far engaged more than 300 children, provides guidance on healthy food preparation and eating, and allows children to access free sports activities.

Because of his work, many of David’s participants are reaching the potential he set out for them, including gaining employment and living healthier lifestyles, which he says has impacted on their mental health, decreasing social isolation and increasing community cohesion.

As far as his own life is concerned, he fell in love with coaching and couldn’t see himself doing anything else. 

Coaching has helped me develop as a person. I'm more confident and happy and I go to sleep every night with a smile on my face, knowing I have made a difference to someone’s life. I love my job, which makes such an impact my mental well-being - just enjoying what I do.

“As a development officer, I want to provide as many opportunities for my city and county as possible. I want community coaches in every ward of my city, so they can influence young people and put them on the right path and inspire them to make the right choices. I want to keep growing my team and make great social change.”  

And what would he say to others who have thought about or are thinking about trying coaching?  

“By becoming a coach you will impact people’s lives and gain a lot of personal satisfaction knowing you've made a difference. Sometimes people just need that one positive encounter to shape their whole future. It happened to me and through coaching I've gone on to help thousands.” 

Marcellus Baz BEM

Boxing coach Marcellus Baz BEM is an inspiration. In 2017 he was named Community Coach of the Year at the UK Coaching Awards for his work in Nottingham, organising free boxing sessions for young vulnerable people who are involved in gangs or are at risk of getting involved.

Dedicating a large proportion of his time to coaching every week, Marcellus works in some of the most deprived areas of Nottingham and says he became a coach to help young people transform their lives and reach their full potential. 

“My own coach had such a positive impact on my personal and professional development – it was his support and enthusiasm which sparked my passion for sport and boxing in particular. I knew early-on that I wanted to become a coach and do the same for others”.

Rewinding back, Marcellus’ journey into coaching was a fraught one – he had dreamt of becoming a professional boxer but a horrific incident, where he was stabbed through the hand in an altercation, ended those dreams. He then found solace in coaching.

Through my own training, I knew how important the role of a coach is. I always kept my belief in the value of sport for building self-esteem, confidence, and the social skills needed for a successful life – becoming a coach was the ideal way to bring this to young people who were just like me and needed some support and direction. 

“I got my first coaching opportunity at a community hall where I volunteered. I introduced activities using pads and gloves and the young people responded really well. I quickly realised it was helping to keep them out of trouble, giving them a focus and purpose, and creating a safe and positive environment for them to learn new skills.” 

Through the medium of boxing he has helped, and is helping, the young people he interacts with on daily basis build confidence, self-esteem, discipline, respect, life and social skills. As he says, “my aim is to help them to become champions inside and outside of the ring.” 

But his work is by no means limited to Nottingham and the UK. 

In 2015, Marcellus was invited to Norway by the Norwegian government to advise them on addressing extremism, and demonstrated to officials in Denmark how to prevent young people from getting into crime. Then in 2017, he was invited to a world conference in Brazil by ‘Fight For Peace’ to share his experience of using boxing as a tool to tackle youth violence in the UK, and then was asked to speak at an international conference on youth violence and prevention in Los Angeles, where he also received a certificate of international recognition from the Mayor of LA Eric Garcetti. 

As a result of all his work, Marcellus was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Unsung Hero Award and received a British Empire Medal from the Queen for his services to youth boxing and the community in Nottingham. 

“I’ve learnt that combining sport with mentorship is incredibly powerful – the discipline of boxing alongside a positive role-model can have a huge impact on the life of a young person.”

“I also coach young people from difficult backgrounds with complex issues that often fall between the cracks of the system, meaning they usually end up going into a life of crime. I use sport to engage with these hard to reach youngsters, giving them the skills to have a fulfilling career and escape a criminal lifestyle.”

Marcellus talks candidly about the types of changes he’s seen in his participants because of his coaching – taking grassroots participants to become national boxing champions and eventually, enter the professional arena. But what types of changes has he seen in himself?

“I believe that coaching has empowered me to reach my full potential; much like the people that come to the gym, it’s given me confidence, helped me to become resilient, and supported the development of leadership skills such as public speaking.

“My aim is to make coaching accessible to anyone who may not otherwise have the opportunity to feel the benefit of sport and fitness; those that have experienced difficulties early on in life or continue to face barriers that prevent them from fulfilling their potential.”

It goes without saying that Marcellus advocates coaching; he sees it as a positive solution to global problems.
“I’m currently focusing on my base in Nottingham but I get asked for consultancy advice from cities across the world. Young people falling into a life of crime is a global problem and I truly believe that sport and coaching offers a positive solution.”

“I tell people that coaching is one of the most satisfying and rewarding things to do in life. I would highly recommend it to anyone.”

Quinton "Q" Shillingford

Q is a former national boxing champion; served his country as a member of the Royal Navy; is a current Great Britain Performance Coach and England Boxing Talent Development Coach, and, as anyone who knows him will happily testify, can talk for England too. To those whose lives he has transformed, he is also a national treasure.

His boxing academy - which is a community enterprise - continues to grow year on year, running seven days a week and catering for every ability level and all age groups (from six to 62).

Wherever Q is working, and whoever he is working with from one day to the next, the profound and varied benefits of boxing are always clearly discernible.

"Luckily sport steered me away from the street and the street didn’t get hold of me like it did some of my friends, but I also learned that everyone has a lovely kid in them,’ adds Q.

The first thing he does with those who haven’t been as lucky as he has been in discovering a positive role model and a love of sport is to put himself in that person’s shoes. He says he understands the mindset of individuals who feel shunned by their own communities and in desperate need of a second chance in life.

"Say someone has gone to prison for robbery. The whole street where they live knows that they robbed a house and has served a jail sentence. So no one trusts them when they get out. They can’t get a job because the area they live is so small everyone knows their story. People will be talking behind their back.

"Ex-prisoners can come into our gym and they are not judged, whatever they have done. We’ve had ex-inmates on a probation course who have worked their way through the awards and tutor courses so that they have no reason to sit at home and get frustrated, no reason to roam the streets with their old street gang – they can come here."

Having operated on both sides of the ropes, Q has seen the tremendous impact boxing has on people’s lives, and compares boxing coaches to youth workers.

The way we keep kids off the street is unreal. We’ve got some real hard to reach kids in our gym. I was the same. I see a lot of kids and I think 'I know exactly where you’re coming from'. I know for a fact that sport can change lives because it’s changed my life.

"Coaching is a passion and has given me the platform to have an enjoyable career and to make a difference to the people in the community with similar backgrounds to myself."

Q has produced champions in the ring, but an even longer line of champions out of the ring by helping those he has coached lead successful lives they can be proud of.

Samuel Tuck

At the 2017 UK Coaching Awards, Samuel Tuck was named Heather Crouch Young Coach of the Year for his work as head coach of the University of Surrey Boat Club (USBC). 

In the 2016-2017 rowing season, he supported over 40 athletes to achieve great success on the water, winning at the Metropolitan Regatta, as well as successfully qualifying for Henley Women’s and Henley Royal Regatta and being voted Surrey’s most successful club in non-BUCS events.  

These successes were furthered in the 2017-2018 season, where the club saw its best results in every race they entered, including winning a championship gold at BUCS regatta; representing at the European University Games (EUSA) and at the World University Championships (FISU); and qualifying to race for England at the Home International Regatta.

His coaching journey, however, began following three great years of rowing at Durham University, when he was given the opportunity to run the development rowing programme (for beginners) and subsequently fell in love with being part of a season long campaign.

Coaching provides you with a platform to stay in the sport you love; stay competitive; and help your sport grow and expand,

At USBC, Sam runs a programme that is high-performance in nature, writing all the squad programmes (beginner, intermediate and senior) and often liaising with British Rowing, and coaches from other sports, to ensure that the strongest of his athletes are supported as necessary. 

With organised external nutrition meetings and physiotherapy, regular pastoral care and physiological talks on an individual basis, Sam makes sure his athletes are supported in every sense, seeing them grow in belief and professionalism.

“Too many people have inspired me to coach, but it is hard to look past Sir Clive Woodward. I often ask myself ‘What would Sir Clive do…?’.

“I think the main role for a coach is to help athletes aim higher than they think possible. I would like to think that at USBC I am doing this through constant reiteration that there is no limit to how quick they can go!”

Sam also turned down a pay rise at USBC, instead investing the money into maintenance and equipment for the club.

“For me, coaching has given me another outlet to be competitive which compliments my personality. I have thoroughly enjoyed investing time and energy into my athletes and crews and there is no better feeling than watching your crews out-perform what they had previously thought was possible.

And where would he like to take coaching in the future?

“At the moment I am taking it one year at a time, I have targets that I have given myself as a coach and I know the areas that I need to improve in. One day I would love to coach at the top level both in the UK and abroad.

“There was a stage in my life where I didn’t consider coaching to be a ‘proper job’, how wrong I was. Coaching to me feels like running a business, you have staff (athletes), peers (other coaches) and deadlines (races), it’s just a massive bonus that it is in a sport that you are passionate about.”

Wendy Russell

Wendy started playing football at primary school when she was 11 and was advised she would make a great hockey goalkeeper.

“But then I got run over by a car, had some time out, then got told I had arthritis in my hip, and the doctors told me I wasn’t allowed to play sport again.”

“Even at that age, I wanted to be a PE teacher so that was gutting to hear.”

Wendy didn’t play any more sport during her early teenage years, and it looked like the recommendation of the medical professionals had won the day.

But proving people wrong is Wendy’s speciality, and throughout her hiatus, she would regularly rekindle memories of matches and remember the fun she had in her PE lessons at primary school with her favourite teacher, Mrs Chisholm.

“Mrs Chisholm was a brilliant teacher,’ says Wendy, ‘So I had a very good experience at a young age, which spurred me on to want to become a PE teacher. 

I think that grassroots coaches and teachers are the most important people when it comes to fostering and inspiring people to want to get involved in sport, and keep a smile on their faces when taking part.

“I was contemplating what other careers I might want to get into but I didn’t feel anywhere near as passionate about them compared to being a PE teacher, and it was still in the back of my mind.

“When I got to choose my A levels, I chose PE and joined my local hockey team. I knew that this is what I wanted to do, to inspire other people to enjoy sport as much as I do and show people that there is a sport for everyone regardless of your ability. 

“I set up a deaf hockey club, to create that safe environment so young people feel nurtured and can build their focus, confidence and self-esteem. From my past experience with other coaches, I know they feel very daunted about joining a non-disabled club. My club provides them with that stepping stone.

“It isn’t surprising deaf people don’t feel comfortable going out into hearing clubs as even able-bodied people, when they turn up as novices, are generally quite nervous. Young people are very good at understanding and accepting other people, but they don’t necessarily know how to interact with someone who is deaf.

“I researched what was out there and was shocked that, firstly, there was no other provision for people deaf or hard of hearing to play hockey and, secondly, how limited sporting opportunities in general are for them. They can do either football or cricket, but, basically, you are expected to go along to a normal hearing club, and they will provide for you.”

The fledgling club she set up continues to grow steadily and has caught the attention of disability charities nationwide. The publicity she received escalated after she devised 40 of her own unique set of sign language signs specific to hockey.

Currently, Wendy is looking to get disability awareness training into all level one and two coaching courses – regardless of the sport – so that every coach feels comfortable and supported when they coach someone who has a disability. And more importantly, so that participants have the support to enable them to take part in physical activity and sport.

Pioneer, workhorse, motivator, altruistic and driven, Wendy Russell is a role model for coaches in this country and an inspiration to those wanting to either begin a career or further their career in the industry.