Stoke on Trent College launches Oliver Marshall Sports Leaders Academy

A new sports coaching academy at Stoke on Trent College will see sports students donating more than 600 hours each year as volunteer sports coaches across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, in memory of their former fellow student, Oliver Marshall, who passed away last year.

The Oliver Marshall Sports Leaders Academy will be launched at an event attended by lecturers, students, college partners and Oliver’s parents, Dave and Kay Marshall, at Stoke on Trent College’s Institute of Sports Performance at the Cauldon campus on Friday 14th February.

Dave Marsh, sports lecturer at Stoke on Trent College explains: “Olly was a much-loved student who had a real can-do attitude and was always up for volunteering his time to help out at community sports events or to get some really good work experience under his belt. He wanted to be a sports coach. He never hesitated and he thrived on those opportunities.

In the 2018/2019 academic year, more than 124 students, including Olly, contributed 581 volunteering hours coaching at grass roots community sports events, school sports and elite sports events too.”

He adds: “This academic year, we’ve really built on that work, and students have already completed almost 300 hours of voluntary coaching just in the autumn term alone. Now, we’re bringing all of these opportunities and partnerships together into the new coaching academy and we’d like to invite anyone involved in grassroots or community sports activities, for any age group, to contact us to see about the excellent sports coaching and activities our students can provide to help them get people of all ages active and participating in sports.”

The sports students volunteer as sports leaders, coaches and attendants leading a range of activities such as dance, basketball, table-top football, orienteering, futsal, handball, athletics and supporting the elderly playing ‘walking cricket.’

Students at the sports leaders academy have opportunities to lead activities at a range of school sports, elite sports, disability sports and grassroots sports events, in partnership with Sports Across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (SASSOT), Staffordshire Cricket, Stoke City FC Community Sports Trust and Port Vale Community Sports Trust, Stoke-on-Trent School Sports Coordinators Nigel Edwards and Vicki Lightfoot, Basketball England and Regent College.

Dave Marsh adds: “It’s been brilliant for students to have so many opportunities to coach and lead sporting activities ranging from school sports to major county events. One minute they can be working with elderly people on a walking cricket activity, the next helping out at a school sports day. They have also had the chance to work alongside elite coaches such as Stoke City FC Regional Disability Talent Hub, learning how they work with disabled athletes and sports performers.

We have training and workshops at college to help us develop our leadership skills and confidence, and then we put these into practice in the local community. It’s great for our future careers in sports and great to be able to put all this on university applications.”

Stoke on Trent College principal, Denise Brown, concludes: “The strength of experience that our students are getting means they are being accepted onto some great university courses. For example, one student has been accepted on a combined master’s degree, another has a place at Loughborough University, and another has been accepted on a Foundation Degree with Stoke City FC.

For young people who are serious about a career in sport, the Academy offers some amazing opportunities and we are proud to be increasing this work in Oliver’s name. We’re very thankful to Oliver’s parents, Dave and Kay, for working with us on this and being such passionate supporters of the opportunities we are creating for Olly’s classmates and future generations.”

Any community sports clubs or teams interested in working with the academy’s sports coach volunteers, should contact The Institute of Sports Performance at Stoke on Trent College on 01782 208208.

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