“As with most educational programmes, it is down to the individual to ensure they reach their full potential. What you put into it, determines what you get out of it. I put in a lot of hard work and enthusiasm with Cardiff City Foundation, and as a result gained an abundance of experience and achievements. I can now say to my parents ‘I told you so’, and nothing is sweeter than that!!!”
Lucy Thomas, former Cardiff City Women’s Right-Back also studied with the Foundation from 2010-2012.
Growing up I always enjoyed sport. I was a typical ‘sporty’ girl who loved nothing more than playing outside and trying different activities. I could play most sports well but there was one sport that had my heart; football. I loved watching football, I loved talking football, but I really loved playing football; nothing made me happier. I played for Cardiff City FC from a young age and was always ambitious to play at the highest level when I grew up. However, I also knew that it was important to work hard academically.
I was very focused in school in order to achieve my full potential, and this eventually showed in my results. I went through school in the top sets, and when it finally came to taking my GCSEs, I achieved As and A*s in all subjects. The school were pleased with my results and knew that I was a student who had the potential to reach A grade A Levels, should I choose to take them.
When it came to choosing my A Levels, there was just one subject that I was certain I would choose – P.E. My love and passion for sport was paramount to everything I did, and choosing my A-Levels was no exception. I came to a decision that gave me the best opportunities for a career in sport but also wider opportunities should I have a change of heart – P.E., Biology, Maths and Geography were my options. I submitted my choices, and was ready to attend 6th Form come September 2010. However, at the end of a training session with Cardiff City around May 2010, I was given a leaflet about the Futsal and Education Programme.
We were provided with a brief explanation of the course and I came away knowing this would be something I was interested in; training everyday whilst getting an education, what more could I ask for? When I took the leaflet home to my parents, my excitement soon turned into disappointment as they weren’t so enthusiastic. There was no evidence to suggest the programme was a reliable option and would provide me with the opportunities that A-Levels would. A brand new course, with no A-Levels involved seemed too much of a risk to take.
After much persuasion, my parents attended the recruitment evening where we were given more information about the programme content. University was the end goal for me and if the programme’s BTEC qualification couldn’t offer that opportunity, then the scholarship would not be an option. My parents learnt the value of a BTEC Extended Diploma, and realised that University was very much still an option once I completed the programme. However, they were still apprehensive as it was a brand new programme.
It took a lot of research and deliberation, but my parents eventually decided to take the risk. I began the programme in September 2010 and finished in 2012 with an extended Diploma in Sports Performance and Excellence, at triple Distinction*. I spent two very happy years with Cardiff City; I trained every day and my football ability improved greatly. During this time I was selected for the Welsh National Team and chosen to captain Cardiff City FC Women’s Team. I also gained a wealth of experience in coaching through the completion of the NVQ qualification that was integrated into the programme. I loved going to ‘college’ and felt very lucky to be given such an opportunity.
I was then accepted into the University of Bath (University of the Year 2012) to study Sport and Social Science – needless to say my parents were relieved!! I moved to Bath in September 2012 and studied for two years on campus before taking a third year of work placement with Disability Sport Wales.
During my placement I have engaged in numerous training workshops, attended high level management meetings, engaged in administrative duties and much much more. However, my greatest challenge was given to me when I was asked to coordinate the organisation’s biggest community event – The 12th annual Wheelchair Sports Spectacular. I was given the responsibility to organise the event that offers over 20 wheelchair sports to over 600 participants over 2 days. The role involved recruitment of participants, volunteers, coaches, sports clubs; organising the marketing materials; coordinating a VIP reception for CEOs and Government Officials; coordinating sponsor packages; and managing officers, just to name a few. The event took place on the 11th and 12th September and was a great success. It received huge amounts of media attention, with features on BBC Wales Today, ITV News and S4C’s Heno. It has been deemed the most successful Wheelchair Sports Spectacular to date.
Reflecting on my experiences through education, I honestly feel that had I not taken the risk of attending the Cardiff City FC Futsal and Education Scholarship I would not have gained such experiences. I achieved my dream of representing Wales in football, I am attending a top level University and have coordinated the flagship event for a National Development Agency. I am about to complete my final year of studies and will graduate in June 2016. I am not sure what the future brings post-graduation but I feel that with the experience I gained as a result of attending the Cardiff City FC scholarship and since, I am as well prepared as possible for a positive start in employment. For anyone considering the programme, I would say it’s a great option; and with the right application, the programme offers endless opportunities.
As with most educational programmes, it is down to the individual to ensure they reach their full potential. What you put into it, determines what you get out of it. I put in a lot of hard work and enthusiasm, and as a result gained an abundance of experience and achievements. I can now say to my parents ‘I told you so’, and nothing is sweeter than that!!