I caught up with Ben a few days ago and we talked about how coaching youngsters has changed in recent years. Together with his team, Ben dedicates much of his time to helping both professional and amateur clubs link with local authorities and schools. The ultimate goal is to set up sustainable coaching programmes so that youngsters can benefit from a range of skills, challenges and influences.
How did Future Stars come about?
I founded FS back in 2009 because I wanted to work with both professional and amateur clubs, as well as with schools and individual athletes. I felt it was essential to increase awareness of the sport within communities, which would then allow clubs to link more easily with local authorities and local schools. Youngsters keen on getting involved can do so through the various coaching programmes I have put together over the years.
How has coaching changed over recent times?
The game is much faster these days and therefore there’s been a need to “tweak” certain rules to encourage safer play. Youngsters are a lot fitter too; they’re more into their training regimes than ever, which means they’re quicker and stronger, and that in turn means “hits” tend to be harder. In the United States, youngsters lift weights to improve fitness and strength levels. To a certain extent it’s the same here in the UK with many youngsters following that approach.
However, at FS, we feel it’s crucial to build up confidence levels too because it’s when youngsters hold back during a game or in a training session that injuries are more likely to occur. The coaching programmes we offer incorporate an approach that instils confidence, both in individuals and in the team as a whole, whilst at the same time making sure everyone has a good time.
Can you tell us a little about your connections with both pro and amateur clubs?
We work closely with several professional and amateur clubs, including Bristol. We have various coaching programmes in place to make it that much easier for youngsters to get involved with their sport of choice at a sustainable level. One of these initiatives is the Bristol Legacy programme, which has grown tremendously since its inception. Thousands of children now take part and benefit from the different levels of coaching we offer – paving the way for them to excel at their game.
Another programme, proving a huge success both for children who are familiar with the sport and those who are not, is the Fun Stars Multi Sports programme. It’s also a great introduction to rugby at primary school level.
How are you funded?
Future Stars operates under the Schools Sports Initiative, but we are always looking at ways to bring in extra revenue through fundraising events, which includes all sorts of other sporting activities such as cycling. We are also keen to create partnerships with other interested parties looking to develop sustainable coaching programmes within a community.
What’s the future holding?
Future Stars has linked with the 2nd Chance Project, a programme that runs a yearlong coaching course for 16-19 year olds. This provides a work placement with Future Stars for anyone who enrols into the programme which then offers them all the minimum standards to become a professional coach.
My main aim is to keep developing the business. I have learnt a lot during the last 6 years and being able to deal with change is essential in our industry. I am looking forward to seeing what the future brings and, in particular, finding other organisations we can support in order to create a real sporting legacy.