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The Royal Foundation started the Coach Core programme in 2012, in the wake of the London Riots and to contribute to the legacy of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

10 years on – and on the eve of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham – the now-independent charity has supported 726 young people onto community sports coaching apprenticeships, helping them overcome disadvantages, to start meaningful careers, re-engage with education and increase activity levels in their local areas.

Celebrations this year will include several firsts for the charity: a VIP meet-and-greet, the release of an academic study of the programme and a retrospective piece on the very first Coach Core programme.
The charity now looks ahead to the next 10 years, with a new line up of ambassadors taking the baton from Their Royal Highnesses, a 5-year agreement in place with Sport England to become a systemic partner of change, and a bold strategy that speaks to the levelling up agenda and ultimately sets out to change more lives than ever before.

Coach Core CEO Gary Laybourne said:
“As a coach since the age of 17, growing up in tough communities where sport is your main escape, I know first-hand the hugely positive effects of sport and mentorship on influencing a young person’s life. I’ve had the privilege of launching and shaping Coach Core from the outset and I couldn’t be prouder of the young people who have come through our programmes and gone on to make a difference in the next generation’s lives.
Thanks to Their Royal Highnesses, in 2012 we were given this unique opportunity to grow a single project in London, shaped by community coaches ‘on the ground’, and then scale it to meet the needs of young people and employers locally in multiple sites across the UK. Observing the charity’s continual growth over the last 10 years has been humbling and we have been able to make a lasting impact on so many young lives as well as nearly 200 sport-for-good employers too. But there is much more to work for us to do, and we are committed to providing even more accessible, life-changing opportunities through Apprenticeships and sport”

The Covid-19 pandemic reinforced the dramatic benefits of sport and activity for physical and mental health. Yet according to Sport England figures, under-represented groups – people living in deprived areas, women, those from ethnically diverse communities – are still less likely to be active. As grassroots coaches drawn from these communities, Coach Core apprentices are best placed to develop and deliver activity programmes that engage participants, and to become relatable role models.
To date, Coach Core apprentices have delivered 593,860 sessions to an estimated 8,314,040 session participants.

The charity has worked with 187 different youth, sports and physical-activity organisations across the country to provide these apprenticeship placements, including Premier League football clubs, youth centres, the National Trust, trampolining facilities and boxing gyms. By part-funding these organisation’s apprentices Coach Core has helped them develop diverse and dynamic workforces, increasing their resilience and the sector’s ability to deliver sessions to the people who need it most.

Coach Core apprentices complete Level 2 and 3 Apprenticeships in the sport-for-good space. They work 30 paid hours a week, which includes a day of education. This blend of formal training with real work means the apprentices are equipped with the knowledge, skills and experiences to move on to a number of career pathways, inside and outside of the sports industry. Those that don’t have GCSE Maths or English are trained and supported to pass assessments equivalent to those – key qualifications for future employment.
80% of Coach Core apprentices pass the apprenticeship, against a national average of 58%.

The Social Mobility Commission’s recent ‘State of the Nation’ report highlighted that: “widening access to university has not brought the dividends many hoped for, and has diverted attention away from the 50% that pursue other routes.” This emphasises the importance of charities like Coach Core, which are dedicated to social mobility for young people not focused on following an academic pathway to a career with passion and purpose.

Coach Core recently commissioned a piece of independent academic research to better understand the impact of their work. It noted that Coach Core takes on apprentices who have generally been economically inactive and that the programme “acts as an enabler to holistic development.” Apprentices and graduates from the programme spoke at length with the researchers who found the following key themes emerged that indicate the effectiveness of the apprenticeship programme:
- Experiencing the real world of work
- Building networks
- Developing personal skills
- The importance of the programme’s mentoring structures.

Dan, a former Coach Core apprentice from Leeds said:
“I thought I’d have to go away [to get a job in sport], but now I’ve got a job in my local area, where I grew up, I want to stick here and provide the next generation [with] opportunities
When people think of an apprenticeship, they think of sweeping the floor and making cups of tea, but this qualification through Coach Core, and the employers that you go to isn’t that at all. It’s hands-on, there’s so much learning, it’s life-changing opportunities”

In 2022 Coach Core became one of Sport England’s System Partners, working together to tackle inequalities in sport and physical activity. This long-term commitment from Sport England will help ensure that Coach Core can continue to change even more lives, in more ways, and in more places in the coming years. Part of the charity’s plans include diversifying the apprenticeship qualifications it offers, and working with sports’ National Governing Bodies. Recently it announced partnerships with England Boxing and British Cycling to help them create and deliver apprenticeships across the country.

Coach Core’s ambassadors include England Lioness and Manchester City captain Steph Houghton, 5-time Olympic medallist Max Whitlock, tennis legend Judy Murray and elite gymnastics coach Scott Hann.

• The Centre for Social Justice’s 2011 paper ‘More Than A Game’ highlighted the barriers many young people from disadvantaged communities face trying to achieve meaningful occupations. Eager to make a significant impact in this area, The Royal Foundation developed Coach Core as a way to re-engage young people with education and employment through a sports coaching apprenticeship.
• With sport as the hook, passionate young people were encouraged onto a programme that would provide them with qualifications, hands-on training, a job with a community sports organisation, and a wealth of opportunities.
• Following the success of early programmes in London (2012, partnered with Greenhouse Sports), Glasgow (2013, with Glasgow Sport) and South Wales (2015, with the Welsh Rugby Union) Coach Core began an ambitious project of rolling out the programme across the country. Sites were chosen based on the need for the programme, through research into the indices of multiple deprivation and local opportunities. The charity now operates in 19 sites across the UK, with further expansions planned.
• In 2020, after consultation with the key sector bodies, The Royal Foundation trustee board and Their Royal Highnesses, Coach Core Foundation established itself as an independent charity.
• In 2021 the charity wins UK Coaching’s Transforming Coaching award and launched its 2021-2024 strategy
• In 2022 Coach Core was announced as one of Sport England’s system partners.

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