Teenage student hopes to Pass on her Passion for sports through national programme

Centre left, Alex Fontaine, the new Female Football Development Apprentice at South Tyneside College, and Shakila Ahmed, a volunteer sports coach at the college, with, far left, Ruth Nicholson, Coaching Development Manager at Tyne & Wear Sport, and Chris Reay, Sport Maker at South Tyneside College
Centre left, Alex Fontaine, the new Female Football Development Apprentice at South Tyneside College, and Shakila Ahmed, a volunteer sports coach at the college, with, far left, Ruth Nicholson, Coaching Development Manager at Tyne & Wear Sport, and Chris Reay, Sport Maker at South Tyneside College
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A passion for sport - and a new region-wide campaign to encourage women into coaching - is helping a South Tyneside College student get on the starting blocks to success.

Alex Fontaine, 17, is one of 22 coaches and participants from clubs across Tyne and Wear whose inspirational attitude to sport is helping drive the Pass On Your Passion initiative.

It aims to encourage those involved in sports coaching to support others to follow in their footsteps.

Those who pick up the baton are then helped and supported to gain the right qualifications and experience to begin their own coaching journey.

The campaign aims to improve figures which show just 17 per cent of female coaches receive a qualification each year.

Organisers say sports student Alex is an inspirational role model, whose participation could help turn that around.

In less than a year, she has gone from leaving school with just one qualification to becoming the college’s new Female Football Development Apprentice.

As well as learning coaching skills, the post requires she signs up 100 girls to play football and gets 10 female volunteers into coaching.

Alex, from Biddick Hall, South Shields, said: “Coaching was the only thing I could think of to provide opportunities to young girls to take part in sport and football.

“My apprenticeship, and this campaign, provide me the opportunities to make my dream a reality – I hope to inspire young girls to take part.”

Those joining Alex to promote Pass On The Passion include Shakila Ahmed, a former South Tyneside College student, now studying a childhood and early years degree at Northumbria University.

One day a week she returns as a volunteer to coach students on the autism spectrum – a role she carried out during her two years studying health and social care.

It is to Alex that she passed on the coaching baton.

Shakila, 20, from South Shields, said: “I enjoy helping others and I want to make a difference in other people’s lives, and I believe this campaign will help me do that.”

Pass On Your Passion, which involves 13 County Sports Partnerships in the North of England.

Each of the Tyne and Wear participants has been given a baton by Tyne & Wear Sport and asked to pass it on to a female participant from their club.

They have also been presented with certificates in recognition of their involvement and coaching achievements.

To find out more, please visit www.tynewearsport.org/passonyourpassion