To celebrate our 10th birthday year we’ll be highlighting some key moments and individuals from the last ten years. This month, and in celebration of Apprenticeship Week (12 – 21 August), we’re delighted to introduce you to DMSF Apprentice Coach, Django Back. 

Age
23 years old

Previous school/college
Alder Grange and Alder Grange sixth form

What work, if any were you doing before starting with DMSF
I had graduated from University with a sports science degree a year previously and was working part time in retail whilst doing voluntary coaching on the side. With my enjoyment for sport and coaching I was determined to find work within the field of sport and sports coaching when the apprenticeship opportunity came up through Coach Core.

How did you get to know about DMSF
Following up form the opportunity with Coach Core Apprenticeships, I met Diane who was representing DMSF at the Coach Core employment activity day, speaking to her really interested me in the charity and their approach towards sport and coaching.  After meeting Diane and discussing with her first-hand what the charity did and how they develop young people really interested me and made me consider how coaching could be a large aspect of my life with the capability of leading into a serious career.

How many times a week are you involved with DMSF?
It’s my full-time job working and coaching with DMSF alongside doing my apprenticeship, meaning I work with them 4 days a week.

What is your role?
I am one of the coaches who works and represents the foundation in schools and at their sports hubs outside of schools.

What were you doing before you joined DMSF?
I was doing a small bit of coaching each week, playing sports, keeping fit and working part time in retail.

What difference has DMSF made to you since you became involved?
It has shown me so much about being a coach, how I can better myself, how I can challenge myself, how much fun I can have and how coaching really impacts those within the community.

Do the DMSF values (creating opportunities, acting with integrity, instilling resilience) make any difference in your life today?
A lot of what I have learnt within the foundation has been noticeable when coaching with other teams and groups outside of DMSF as well as how much sport can really change and influence anyone who gets involved, like friends and family.

What do you enjoy most about the sessions?
I really enjoy being involved in the sessions and watching many of the coaches work, this way I can use ideas or think up new ones. It is also extremely rewarding to put on a session and see it work, see how those involved react and surprise you when they accomplish something new.

How has COVID-19 affected your ability to do your job?
Throughout lock down and the pandemic I have managed to continue with weekly apprenticeship work and coaching with my local football club has recently been allowed to continue. Much of my motivation was reduced through lockdown and I have been much less involved in physical activity as usual. This has led to me losing much of my physical fitness and strength, I think my mental wellbeing has possibly been lowered too and I have had days where I would want to do nothing at all. With restrictions being loosened I am starting to gradually involve myself in more activity again and this is making me much happier as I look forward to hopefully returning to more work and coaching again shortly.

What have you found challenging in your life and has your time with DMSF helped make a difference?
Before working with DMSF I worked part time in retail, although this was steady and convenient at times, the daily work and tasks just seemed meaningless. With a degree in sport and plenty of experience coaching I knew I had more to offer. Working and being involved with DMSF showed me I had so much more to offer and everything I did and was involved in felt like it meant so much more. Working with the foundation helped get me involved in even more than I could imagine, as I feel there will be many more exciting and amazing opportunities to be experienced yet.

What sport if any do you do now and to what level?
I did Karate for around 10 to 15 years and reached my blackbelt 1st Dan, I casually play football as well as coaching at grassroots level alongside general exercise, fitness and casual involvement in other sports.

Where does your passion for sport come from?
I have always enjoyed playing sport since I was young and I always enjoyed learning about new sports and picking up new skills. As I got older, I knew I wouldn’t be capable of competing or being involved in sport at a high level but I wanted to continue involving myself in sport anyway. From this I began coaching which still heavily relies on being physically active and having an involvement in sport.

As I work with DMSF I am always looking to improve myself as a coach, how I work with those involved in the foundation and keeping up with the kids and other coaches.

What skills has DMSF given you?
DMSF has really helped my social skills on many levels, such as meeting new people, coaching different audiences and dealing with people in different ways. I think much of this has made me more confident when speaking to people and when dealing with groups. As well as this, through DMSF and the apprenticeship I have been able to experience and be involved in a number of qualifications and courses teaching me lots of important and unique skills.

What are your ambitions for the future?
I am excited to continue my apprenticeship with the foundation as well as seeing much of the amazing and impactful work it does within the community as I look forward to returning to work to see how we may adapt following COVID-19. With an aspiration to continue and develop my career as a coach with the intention of working abroad a few years down the line.

Anything else you would like to share
I really enjoy working with the foundation and in the role of a coach, I took my time to get here and I have had to work for it as well but with it being something I really enjoy I believe anyone who wants something enough will try their best to work for it and eventually persevere.

Django, we’re all so proud to have you on the DMSF team.