Coach Billy

I never used to miss the sessions. Even if I had a detention, I would run up the road and get involved with the games as soon as I was let out! One of the big reasons I joined the project was because it was through school, so my mum said that it was fine. If it was outside of school, my mum would have said no. Cricket is expensive, memberships are expensive, the equipment is expensive, a lot of this was expensive for me. I couldn’t really afford it so I just stuck with the Street project because it was a free session for me.

I’ve played tapeball with my brothers, cousins and their friends, since I was about five-years-old and I learnt how to tape a ball from them. I even showed my coaches how to do it – they filmed me doing it because their edges were all creased up at the seam.

[The project] used to give us a place to go before or after going to mosque – instead of being on the street, maybe smashing a window with a ball. It gave us an opportunity to actually use our skills in a safe environment.

From there it went ‘boom!’ I just kept going to the sessions – it improved my skills and it improved me as a person. It matured me as well. It gave me discipline because I was looking up to [the coaches].

At the sessions, I used to put a few people who didn’t know how to play cricket properly on my team, I encouraged them, allowed them to develop. I helped them to hold the bat properly, bowl the ball straight and it developed and developed, week in, week out. That’s when I used some of the techniques that my coaches taught me – I said ‘look this is how you do it, this is how you hold it’ and showed it to some of my mates.

It’s really inspiring that I’ve learnt from all my coaches throughout my journey. It made me think I want to be this. I want to be like this. I want to do coaching.

Unfortunately, with Covid 19 affecting attendance, the decision was made to discontinue the session that Bilal attended. Wanting to remain involved with the programme, Bilal reached out to his coaches, asking to volunteer to help give other young people the opportunity to experience the sport.

It was August 4th [2021], I remember that’s the first session I went to volunteer at. The guys at Trent Bridge helped me with my Level 1 and I was a qualified coach in March.

I run my own session with Notts County now, which involves football and cricket, which Chance to Shine is a big part of it. That’s in the Bilborough area and is going really well. I was literally so busy during the summer holidays, going from one end of Nottingham, to the other! The best part for me, is seeing that smile on the kids faces. If they’re happy, we’re happy. If they’re enjoying themselves, that’s it. A lot of the kids see me around the area because I’m local and they’ll say ‘oh there’s Billy, there’s coach Billy’. It’s good to see that! They know you, they have that relationship with you, they have that bond. And its good to have that as a coach with the children because it’s going to inspire them to come here…I want someone to be inspired by me, I feel like I make a difference. I want to make a difference.

Going to these sessions when I was younger, it boosted my confidence, it gave me a mentality where I want to achieve more, I want to do well and hopefully I’ll spread that across the children that we’re working with in Nottingham. I’m not stopping the coaching now, in this lifetime, until my knees are not working…that’s it!


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