In the first few weeks of delivering our Sport Development Worker was based at our main local Youth Centre, we had only one young person come along. Y had been asked to come along by his Key Worker at the youth centre to try some of the new sports sessions that we on offer. Y had serious self-confidence issues and also found it very difficult to communicate with others.

Although as a project we would have wanted more young people to come along to the sessions, this 1-1 working time allowed us to help Y deal with some of his issues – playing games that needed communication, identifying the sports he enjoyed and did well in to boost his self-confidence. Y engaged more and more each week. However when new faces started to join the group Y shied away from the front of the group, preferring to be in the background.  But he still engaged which was a success in itself.

As the weeks went on, we gradually encouraged Y through the games we were playing to talk to the others, and were pleased that he developed friendships with all of the young people within the group.  Having been accepted, he would always ask the questions for others, and be the first person in at the start of the night.

Y recognised that it was the taking part in sport and being part of a team that enabled him to develop greater self-confidence, he also realised that he was now fully making eye contact with people he was speaking to. This new found confidence radiated throughout his entire life. He joined the youth clubs ‘Youth Achievement Award Team’, became a young person member of the youth club charity board and gained great marks for his oral work at school.

Y had the highest attendance at any sport sessions we ran over the two years at this youth centre. Within that time he started to coach other young people within the centre during other youth clubs sessions.

However, we didn’t see Y’s true self until we created a Table Tennis team Y had no real previous experience in playing; however he, along with 4 other young people and 4 members of staff, trained week in week out. Y found a determination he did not know he had and within a matter of months had gone from struggling to return the ball over the net to beating staff members.

Y is now a member of the youth clubs Table Tennis Team which competes in the local league. He plays against adults from around the county. He has the confidence to meet new teams, welcomes them to the venue, sets up and scores the matches that are being played.

He truly represents himself, his youth club, and the work this project set out to achieve.