Royal-founded sport-for-good charity celebrates 10th anniversary

July 29, 2022 | by Matt Halfpenny


The Royal Foundation started the Coach Core programme in 2012, in the wake of the London Riots and to contribute to the legacy of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

10 years on – and as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games gets underway – the now-independent charity has supported 726 young people onto community sports coaching apprenticeships, including those who are to work for England Boxing, starting next month.

Coach Core has help many overcome disadvantages, to start meaningful careers, re-engage with education and increase activity levels in their local areas.

Celebrations this year will include several firsts for the charity: a VIP meet-and-greet, the release of an academic study of the programme and a retrospective piece on the very first Coach Core programme.

The charity now looks ahead to the next 10 years, with a new line up of ambassadors taking the baton from Their Royal Highnesses, a 5-year agreement in place with Sport England to become a systemic partner of change, and a bold strategy that speaks to the levelling up agenda and ultimately sets out to change more lives than ever before.

“As a coach since the age of 17, growing up in tough communities where sport is your main escape, I know first-hand the hugely positive effects of sport and mentorship on influencing a young person’s life,” said Coach Core Chief Executive Officer, Gary Laybourne.

“I’ve had the privilege of launching and shaping Coach Core from the outset and I couldn’t be prouder of the young people who have come through our programmes and gone on to make a difference in the next generation’s lives.

“Thanks to Their Royal Highnesses, in 2012 we were given this unique opportunity to grow a single project in London, shaped by community coaches ‘on the ground’, and then scale it to meet the needs of young people and employers locally in multiple sites across the UK.

‘Humbling’ growth

“Observing the charity’s continual growth over the last 10 years has been humbling and we have been able to make a lasting impact on so many young lives as well as nearly 200 sport-for-good employers too. But there is much more to work for us to do, and we are committed to providing even more accessible, life-changing opportunities through Apprenticeships and sport.”

The Covid-19 pandemic reinforced the dramatic benefits of sport and activity for physical and mental health. Yet according to Sport England figures, under-represented groups – people living in deprived areas, women, those from ethnically diverse communities – are still less likely to be active.

As grassroots coaches drawn from these communities, Coach Core apprentices are best placed to develop and deliver activity programmes that engage participants, and to become relatable role models.

To date, Coach Core apprentices have delivered 593,860 sessions to an estimated 8,314,040 session participants.

The charity has worked with 187 different youth, sports and physical-activity organisations across the country to provide these apprenticeship placements, including Premier League football clubs, youth centres, the National Trust, trampolining facilities and boxing gyms.

By part-funding these organisation’s apprentices Coach Core has helped them develop diverse and dynamic workforces, increasing their resilience and the sector’s ability to deliver sessions to the people who need it most.

80% pass rate

80% of Coach Core apprentices pass the apprenticeship, against a national average of 58%.

Dan, a former Coach Core apprentice from Leeds said: “I thought I’d have to go away [to get a job in sport], but now I’ve got a job in my local area, where I grew up, I want to stick here and provide the next generation [with] opportunities

“When people think of an apprenticeship, they think of sweeping the floor and making cups of tea, but this qualification through Coach Core, and the employers that you go to, isn’t that at all. It’s hands-on, there’s so much learning, it’s life-changing.”

In 2022 Coach Core became one of Sport England’s System Partners, working together to tackle inequalities in sport and physical activity.

This long-term commitment from Sport England will help ensure that Coach Core can continue to change even more lives, in more ways, and in more places in the coming years. Part of the charity’s plans include diversifying the apprenticeship qualifications it offers, and working with sports’ National Governing Bodies.

Recently it announced partnerships with England Boxing and British Cycling to help them create and deliver apprenticeships across the country.

Coach Core’s ambassadors include England Lioness and Manchester City captain Steph Houghton, five-time Olympic medallist Max Whitlock, tennis coach Judy Murray and elite gymnastics coach Scott Hann.

More about England Boxing’s apprentices

Click here to find out more.