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QPR’s Community team were in attendance at HMP Wandsworth last Monday, after a number of selected prisoners were awarded an FA Level One coaching qualification in an initiative run by the Trust.
Spearheaded by the Community Trust’s Danny Edwards and PE Officer Matt Gamble, successful participants were handed the award – which is the first step on The FA’s coaching ladder – in a project aimed at giving inmates new skills and qualifications as well as preparing them for release.
Run over two one month periods on the prison’s state of the art 3G Astroturf pitch, the inmates were put through their paces in their final assessment by an external FA examiner, with a 20-minute practical coaching session the finale to the course.
The Trust’s Danny Edwards spoke of his delight at the success of the initiative at the awards ceremony, commenting:
“It’s important for us to engage with all areas of communities and deliver positive outcomes to peoples’ lives . . . We feel through the power of football we can make a valuable contribution towards tackling a wide range of social issues . . . This will help us to forge stronger and deeper connections with communities that we engage with.”
PE Officer Matt Gamble, who played an integral part in co-ordinating the scheme, said: “It’s been hugely popular and demand is very great. We’ve got a waiting list of lads who want to go on the scheme.
“This gives them potential opportunities when they’re released. It’s made a real positive impact on the lads. From our point of view we get to see real changes in them.
“They’ve got positive contributions to make and can do when they’re released and that’s what it’s all about.”
Reducing reoffending plays a key part in the process that the prison service goes through when inmates are pending release.
Dave Asker, Head of Reducing Re-Offending, said:
“I believe the scheme run by QPR is very beneficial. The main thing is the education and training, it doesn’t stop here . . . When they go out it’s up to them to support the community. The support from QPR and Danny has been excellent. We’ll be looking at offering more qualifications and are looking to expand on qualifications in physical education.”
One prisoner, Duane, a successful candidate on the course, said: “I found it challenging at first. But I’ve enjoyed it. It’s taught me dedication and coaching is definitely something that I want to get into.
“I want to do my Level Two qualifications. I’ll probably work voluntarily at first, and then hopefully get a full-time job.”
Another participant on the scheme, Chris, commented: “It’s brought a lot of people together and been all-round enjoyable. I want to get out there and start teaching some of the younger kids from around my area, and then see where it goes from there. “It’s all about confidence and this has shown me what opportunities are out there.”