From education to employment

Barnsley College Sport Students inspired by Mr Silky Skills

Barnsley College Sport students had the chance to hear from a range of guest speakers, including football freestyler Mr Silky Skills, as part of Sport and Esports Industry Week.

The talks allowed students to explore potential careers within the sector, whilst developing the skills they need for Higher Education or employment.

The main activity of the week was Richard Braithwaite, aka Mr Silky Skills, an international and award-winning football freestyler. Richard has been freestyling for many years and has inspired many people in his local community of Liverpool. He has also featured on various TV stations including for Sky Sports, BBC and at Premiership Stadiums.

Richard said: “Football is a sport that breeds tension and rivalry, however through freestyling we bring young people together to enjoy the sport without the negativity. I enjoyed sharing my story of going from youth worker to a renowned freestyler. I hope I have inspired the students to follow their dreams and ambitions.”

Paul Smith, Managing Director of LCS Sports, was another of the guest speakers. Students were taken through the various transferable skills Paul developed while working in sports marketing. Over the last 20 years he has worked across three Olympic Games, two Rugby World Cups and a Men’s and Women’s ICC Cricket World Cup.

Paul said: “As a state school pupil myself, I really wanted the students from Barnsley College to appreciate the breadth and depth of opportunities available in the sports industry and to give them the motivation to pursue a career in this field. There is so much more to sports than traditional coaching and the industry really needs a more diverse workforce, so hopefully showing the students my career path and giving tips on how to get that first role was both useful and inspiring.”

Katie Burnett, Workforce Operations Manager for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, shared with the students details of her very varied career working worldwide in events and operation management. Her story took students on an inspiring and entertaining journey through working at the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi to the World Expo in Dubai and her current role within the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Over the course of the week, students heard from other speakers from a range of professional backgrounds. This included Rupert Aikman, Managing Director of Healthy Eating Solutions Ltd.; Dom Brook, Director at Brook Corporate Developments; Scott Whitfield, a Trainee Sport and Exercise Psychologist; Collette Evans, owner of Picture Perfect Photography; Claire Antcliffe, Women’s Rugby Development Officer; David Macutkiewicz, Performance Science Consultant; Nat Jackson, Director and Co-Founder of Totally Runable Ltd.; Nick Exley, Fundraiser at Project Wolfpack; and Ava Pearce, Personal Trainer and Co-Founder of the #ImmersiveGymCo and South Yorkshire Fire Service.

The sessions were organised by Julia Davies, Talent United and Enterprise Officer at Barnsley College. Julia said: “It was great to have guests talking to our students, inspiring their early career journeys and providing a real opportunity to enrich their skills and knowledge.

“We are working with employers to lead the economic recovery and meet their needs both now and for future roles, by providing students and adults with the skills to succeed. I would like to personally thank all of our guest speakers and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.”

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