Joe Pym, Education and Recruitment Officer at Wigan Athletic Community Trust, has embarked on an educational pathway with Wigan Athletic and the University of South Wales (USW).
The 26-year-old’s involvement on the USW Foundation Degree in Community Football Coaching course led him to achieve his dreams and ambitions of working for his boyhood club.
The Foundation Degree course develops the skills and qualities that are required to work within professional football Clubs' community departments or national governing bodies in areas of growth such as social inclusion, community coaching and football development.
Students are uniquely based within their own local football Clubs, with a minimum of five days per year at the USW Sport Park, a £3.7m state-of-the-art coaching and performance development centre.
Alongside his studies, Joe had the opportunity to work as a Head Coach and Disability Coordinator at Wigan Athletic Community Trust, gaining vital coaching experience in different community environments and with different ages.
He really credits the blended learning aspect of the course, saying: “I wasn’t the most academic person at school or college, I was never particularly motivated by sitting in a classroom, it’s just not me. The flexibility of the blended learning is what really helped me achieve my ambitions and gain the qualifications I needed to get to where I am now.
“Rather than being sat in a lecture hall with over 150 people, you’re in a football work environment with seven or eight people who become your peers and you’re supported by a mentor at the club who sets you targets and gives you one-to-one feedback. This aspect really helped me and I’d recommend the course to anybody.”
Joe started his employment pathway with Latics, in a Head Coach role for Every Player Counts, a programme that covers a wide range of disabilities, giving many people the chance to participate in sport for the first time.
He added: “It is so rewarding to be a part of changing someone’s life and helping them to enjoy sport, seeing their face light up on the football pitch is the best feeling. When people see you wearing the Wigan Athletic badge it stands out and they look up to you as a role model.”
He finds great pride in sharing his knowledge to those who were once in his position, as he now mentors students at Wigan Athletic Community Trust on the same USW course he completed.
“It feels amazing to give back to those who were once in my position, trying to work out what to do in life. To have a job I enjoy, working and representing the club I’ve supported all my life, and to be giving back to my community makes me incredibly proud.”