Igniting passions in Sparkhill

Fareed Mohammed first joined the Chance to Shine Street project in Sparkhill aged 13. Now aged 20, Fareed is employed by Warwickshire Cricket Board and has been coaching children at the same Sparkhill Street project for two years. He is also undertaking a degree to become a PE teacher.

Growing up, Fareed recognises that he was a disruptive child and often got in trouble with teachers: “I used to mess about a lot, I was a very bad kid.” A cricket fan, Fareed only played a little bit in his back garden but, aged 13, he was told about the Chance to Shine Street project in Sparkhill, Birmingham, near to where he lived.

Even when enjoying himself at Street sessions, his frustrations could bubble over and he would get angry. Fareed credits his former coach, Mohammed Arif, as a significant influence on his life. “At a young age, he gave me life advice: this is what you should do, this is what you shouldn’t.” Under the guidance of his coach, Fareed soon settled down and made friends. “I became more confident by interacting with everyone and meeting new people every week”, says Fareed.

Fareed’s role in helping new starters showed a different side to Mohammed, who encouraged him to take on a leadership role and help coach sessions for younger children. Fareed completed 100 hours as a volunteer coach before Mohammed put him forward to do the ECB Level Two coaching certificate, funded by Chance to Shine. Once completed, he was immediately employed as a support coach at the sessions he had once been a participant.

As someone who has grown up in the same area as the children he coaches, with the same interests, Fareed is the perfect role model. “I’ve been there, done that”, he says. “The difference that Arif made to me, I want to make for someone else. I want to make that impact on future generations.”

He understands the outside influences that affect the children and makes sure to address them. In February 2019, an 18 year-old was stabbed in the neighbouring Small Heath area. Some of the children at the Street sessions knew the victim and at the next session, Fareed spoke to the children about what had happened. “Every week there’s something new, could be a stabbing, assault, could be a video on social media.” To have a guiding figure like Fareed will hopefully ensure that the young people he works with are aware of what is going on and how to avoid taking the first steps along a dangerous road.

It’s a path that Fareed is aware of and he believes that cricket helped to steer him away from:

“If I didn’t play cricket, with my anger management issues back then, that could have taken me elsewhere where I could have been in gangs, knife crime. I could have been in prison for all I know. Cricket has been a massive part of my life. It has taken my mind off things.”

Inspired by his time working for Chance to Shine, he chose a career in the world of physical education over pursuing a degree in radiology. For Fareed, the journey has come full circle; from a young person whose temperament got him into trouble at school, to a grown-up who is making a difference to children just like himself.

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