Tim Lord-Hopkins – awarding-winning coach – talks about his coaching journey

Last year saw Tim Lord-Hopkins crowned 2013 Young Coach of the Year for, among other things, his inspirational work setting up the tennis Respect Programme, which also won Community Project of the Year in Hampshire 2012. We took the chance to find out a little bit more about this young 1st4sport Qualifications learner. The power sport can have in young people’s lives is something that shone through.

Congratulations to Tim who has since gone on to win Apprentice Of The Year at the London Loves Talent Awards 2014.

Why did you want to become a coach?

When I was at school, I was a pretty active kid and really enjoyed PE and Games. If it was up to me, I would have chosen to do them all day! I wasn’t going to be able to play sport for a living so being able to coach many different types of people in different sports appealed to me. I also thought it would be a good chance to give something back.

Describe your coaching journey

At 15, I started off by completing my 1st4sport Level 1 Award in Coaching Football. I then progressed from there, through different volunteering opportunities and paid employment, going on to achieve my 1st4sport Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Football. School just wasn’t for me so when I went to college, I was thankful for the opportunity to support the college game by volunteering. At one point, I was getting paid by the college to run one of their football sessions so I was able to pick up a lot of experience in coaching players from different age groups and disabilities. Before I knew it, I was starting to make some sort of career out of it and enjoying giving back to the community.

I then got the chance to do an apprenticeship through the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and the Respect Programme. The LTA had chosen Portsmouth to be a pilot city to get more people playing the sport so there was a lot of investment at the time, and part of that investment was apprenticeship opportunities.

Until this chance came up, I had been concentrating on my football coaching. At the time, I was the first person in the country ever to go on the apprenticeship without having any tennis knowledge at all. The LTA tennis apprentices were usually people who had played in clubs or indoor centres but hadn’t, unfortunately, for one reason or another, been able to make it as a player so they had fallen into the coaching world. So I was learning how to play and coach at the same time. It wasn’t easy as I had to put aside a lot of time to develop my game, as well as coach someone, so I had to be very dedicated to it!

What’s the best thing about being a coach?

It’s not just about what happens on the pitch or court, it’s just amazing what sport can do for someone. I really enjoy just being able to educate young people, not just about playing the sport, but also the other important aspects of life sport helps people with. It can be such a powerful force for positive change in people’s lives, influencing their lifestyle and health choices. Then there are the behavioural and social aspects. Having the chance to make a difference in someone’s life and play a part in their journey is something I love to do. At the other end of the spectrum, with the more performance and development side, I enjoy educating players to get the best out of themselves.

What are your future aspirations?

My main focus at the minute is to pass my Level 3 tennis apprenticeship, which I’m currently in the process of taking.

Once that’s complete, I’ve a few goals in mind, with the biggest one being continuing to use sport to educate youngsters. I’m currently working part-time at a school, and if I can work there on a more full-time basis, hopefully I can help guide the kids more. That’s my big passion really – if there are pupils who can potentially slip off the rails, then I can use sport to turn them back around, whether that’s through them enjoying sport or getting them engaged more with the education side, as a football/tennis leader or coach for example.

After completing this Level 3 tennis apprenticeship, it can also, if I want it to, act as my starting point for when I’m licensed as a professional tennis coach. You don’t necessarily have to move up the ladder if that’s not for you, but that might be something I might look to do in the future. Alternatively, I might decide to do something completely different and maybe use my football coaching experience more and specialise in goalkeeping, which is another option I’m looking at!

How can you get involved?

If you’ve taken inspiration from reading Tim’s story and would like to become a coach, then the best place to start is the website for the governing body of the sport that interests you. The sports coach UK website has a list of governing bodies of sport, with links to the coach education sections of their websites. Alternatively, you can visit the 1st4sport recognised centre finder to find a centre that delivers the qualification you are interested in.

Qualifications Tim has taken: