Sidelined-2-Sidelines gave 50 young participants from London an opportunity to gain sport related qualifications, learn from leading coach educators and gain an insight into the football industry by working closely with dedicated mentors. Sidelined-2-Sidelines, funded by the Premier League and Professional Footballers' Association, was delivered in association with the Chelsea FC Foundation and QPR in the Community Trust and aimed to increase British Asian representation across grassroots football and within professional club Community Trusts and Foundations.
Mahdieh Pourali: In my own words...
"I have always had a keen interest in sports, whilst playing and volunteering for Muslim Women's Sport Foundation who created the initial opportunity for me to get involved in coaching by sending me on the FA Level 1 course. After gaining my qualification I started coaching Ladies Multi-sport sessions.
I was invited to attend networking events such as the Kick It Out Mentoring Conference in 2013. It was a great event for me as I was able to talk to one of the mentors Rachel Yankey about my coaching aspirations. Until then I was coaching 16- 55 year old ladies and I wanted to experience coaching under 18's in order to distinguish which age group I enjoyed coaching more.
At the same event I was introduced to Zesh Rehman Foundation's Sidelined-2-Sidelines programme and the benefits it could have on my coaching career. After securing a place on the program, I attended the first workshop at QPR's Academy training ground.
The workshops were divided into two parts, the first part was classroom based with the second part being a practical session. Both sections of the workshop were advantageous because we were shown how to incorporate everything we learnt in the classroom into practice. I found the practical aspect of the workshops the most beneficial, especially being taught by experts like Ben Bartlett, Rob Udberg and Nick Levett all of whom were well informed and had gained experience in top premiership clubs. Learning from the best gives you the motivation to soak up as much information as possible.
As part of the programme we were assigned mentors. Initially I did not understand the role of the mentor as I had never had one and was not able to make the most the opportunity. However after discussing it with my mentor (Annie Zaidi), I was able to capitalise on the chance I was given particularly as my mentor and I had gone through similar experiences in different industries, I was able to relate to her.
Alongside attending the S2S workshops, I was actively coaching under 13 boys on Saturday mornings and would try to take what I was learning in every workshop and implement them into my own sessions. Initially I found it difficult as I was not getting the same outcomes as discussed in the workshops but talking about it with my mentor, I realised that it would take time and more practice to be able to deliver the sessions we were learning.
Since joining the S2S programme I have gained my FA Youth Module 1 and FA Level 2 qualifications which have been great personal achievements. I have really enjoyed learning more about the technical side of football, considering the four-corner model when developing players, as well as equipping myself with the skill set to help my team develop their technique and ability.
As the workshops have been continuing and I have been delivering more sessions, I have witnessed the progress in my coaching since joining the S2S programme. Thanks to the support from the team at the ZRF, I have now gained a role within the West Ham United FC Community Sports Trust where I have been delivering sessions within the Girls Programme as well as after-school and half-term clubs.
From where I started 12 months ago to where I am now, I don't believe I would've been able to get this far without the confidence ZRF have shown in me and presenting the opportunity in the first instance. I hope to continue growing as a coach and to develop my technique and skills to be able to help young players reach their potential. Through the S2S programme I have had the privilege of meeting and learning from many great people including experts from within the industry, the coaches that are on a similar path to mine as well as mentors that have shown us that everything is possible."