10 year old Oliver Edwards from Goytre Fawr Primary School in Monmouthshire, recently spent time with Wales Football Manager; Chris Coleman, quizzing him on his experiences of sport. Here, he shares his experience and what inspires him in his role as a Young Ambassador:
"I will never forget the day my mum received an email from the Football Association Wales offering me the opportunity to meet one of my heroes; Wales Manager Chris Coleman. I couldn’t believe that what started as a small idea, had led to meeting one of the most successful Welsh football managers of all time.
I recently became a Young Ambassador for the Youth Sport Trust and Sport Wales, which means I promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage the children in my school to take part in sport. There are so many benefits to sport like making friends, feeling good and being part of a team. It’s so much fun and I really want to be a role model for others.
To help me get started, I thought it would be good to get some insight from someone who worked in the sport world. My school has a radio and I’m part of the radio team, so I wanted to set up some interviews, which could be turned into podcasts and played at the school. I wanted to speak to people who inspire me and as a huge football fan, I thought someone at the Football Association Wales would be perfect.
My mum emailed them to see if I could interview someone at the office. The email was picked up by the media team who invited me to come to the next press conference to announce the squad ahead of the Wales v Serbia World Cup qualifier game. Not only was I going to attend a press conference, I had permission to ask Chris Coleman a question AND I could interview him after the conference. I tried to keep really cool.
I didn’t feel nervous when I arrived - I wanted to make the most of the experience and enjoy every minute. I’ve always been interested in football and really want to be a journalist, so it was exciting to sit with the press. There were about 15 journalists and camera crews but I wasn’t intimidated - they were all really nice and complemented me on my suit.
When the time came, I asked him for his advice on how to inspire young people to get involved in sport. After the ‘no comment’ answer, which got the room in fits of laughter, he gave a really sincere answer. “As long as you are prepared to give everything you've got and be honest to yourself you'll succeed.”
After the conference, I had a chat with Chris. I used the time to ask him how he inspires others to get involved in sport and what advice he would give a ten year old who would love to have a career in sport.
I’ve really thought about the advice he gave me and will always remember the last thing he told me which was to ‘enjoy the journey’. When I told my friends they were really surprised and a bit envious, but I think my teachers and dad’s friends were more jealous.
I can’t wait to share the podcast with my school. I’m hoping to start a series of podcasts, but this one will be a little hard to beat!
The next thing I’m helping out with is Healthy Living Week, which is when all lessons stop at our school for one week so that we can promote health and wellbeing. We want to give kids the chance to take part in different sports. I think it’s important to find a sport that suits you especially if we want to get kids hooked on sport for life, they need to enjoy it. I will try to get some alternative sports included in the week, so I might suggest things like trampolining, badminton, table tennis and archery as some of the kids at my school aren’t so keen on team sports. I’m hoping these types of sports won’t make them feel intimidated.
To be successful in my role as a Young Ambassador, I think I need to be patient with others to inspire them. If you are too bossy, then people tend not to listen to you. You need to be kind and patient and if they don’t get what you are trying to teach them first time, you just need to give them time. I want people to make the most of every opportunity. I just love sport and want to get other people inspired to take part too."
The Young Ambassador programme in Wales is run in partnership between Sport Wales, the Youth Sport Trust and the sport development team in each Local Authority. Currently, there are over 3,200 active Young Ambassadors in schools, colleges and Universities across Wales.