Everyone! Meet Natalie – the first young person that the Matt Kendall Foundation has supported with a small grant.
Once homeless, Natalie is now gearing up to go to America to train to be a sports coach – her dream job – with the support of the Foundation.
Natalie’s submission took our breath away, and we know that she’ll go onto great things. This is your money in action! Thank you.
This is Natalie’s story in her own words:
“Upon leaving home at the age of 16 due to a family breakdown, I finished secondary school and applied to play for The Chelsea Ladies U19 Academy.
I was given a trial and I successfully passed and got accepted to play alongside studying a Level 3 Sports Diploma with Chelsea.
A couple months later due to not having enough money, I was forced to leave my accommodation where I was staying, as I could not afford to pay the rent and had no financial support.
I was gutted and lost my opportunity. I moved back to Birmingham and moved in with a friends family who let me stay at their home.
I got my first job in a Direct Sales and Marketing Company doing Door to Door sales on 100% commission only for 2 years. I loved it I learned amazing life skills and this also helped me to gain confidence and learn about entrepreneurship. Most importantly I learned about having a positive attitude and dealing with rejection. Working over 12 hours a day 6 sometimes 7 days a week I had no time to play football and had to give it up. I had to live and pay my way and had to put making an income first.
After leaving the company my goal and focus was to get back into football. I trailed and started to train with The Newcastle United Women’s team getting back into playing at a high level at first came difficult as I hadn’t trained for over two years. However I scored my first goal on my debut and was so happy to have started playing again.
In 2015 I came back to Birmingham and became homeless and was put into a hostel in Aston, sharing with eight other people who I didn’t know. I lost all my confidence and self belief. I have never felt so uncomfortable in my life.
I didn’t tell people as I felt people would have judged me. So I have been putting on a brave face and focused all my energy into where I want to go and what I want to achieve.
I knew I couldn’t stay in a hostel sharing with strangers, so I sent of my application to the YMCA in Birmingham and moved into there, having my own one bedroom flat in a hostel where I felt safer and had my own space to focus better.
I had football as my motivation which kept me going during these hard times and a dream of going to America one day. I started applying for scholarships and various companies throughout 2015 to get an opportunity to showcase my playing talents.
I had many scholarship offers for different colleges and universities – but I just couldn’t afford the remaining tuition fees to make it happen and unfortunately had to turn down multiple offers from coaches. I knew there had to be another way and didn’t give up and began to look in another direction.
I started at Street League- which is a 10 week football programme that helps young people aged 16-25 get back into employment through the power of football.
My favourite part was playing football four times a week and also having the opportunity to also run my own football sessions for the group, which help me grow in confidence and self believe again.
During Street League we had people come in from various companies to give us talks on what opportunities are out there and how they may be able to help prepare us to get back into work. One day a lady named Alison O’Connell came in from FITCAP and I was immediately inspired by her journey. I contacted Alison immediately and arranged to meet her the following week to discuss my situation and my goal of going to America.
Since meeting Alison she has became my mentor and has continued to support me in going to America. I came across a company called UK Elite Soccer and they had interviews coming up, I applied straight away. I attended a six hour interview where I gained loads of knowledge about the company UK Elite and what they were offering for employment in the USA coaching football. I had a practical assessment based on my personality and coaching abilities, followed by a formal interview. It was a long wait to hear if I had successful had got the job. A month later I received a call and I got the contract offer. I was over the moon and so happy.
I am about to go out to New York State from March – November 2016 and fulfil my dreams of going out to the States to coach soccer and also get to play. This is just the start of my journey becoming a professional coach and progressing up the ladder doing something I love and I am passionate about.
Without the help the Matt Kendall Foundation I wouldn’t be able to go to America to achieve my goals. I would like to say a massive thank you for your help and support through these tough times and moments of doubt. I am very grateful for the help as you have given me a lifetime opportunity by helping me to financially make this happen.”
Keep up to date with Natalie’s progress here.
The Matt Kendall Foundation has also made two further grants following the deadline of the first round of applications – we’ll tell you about these shortly.
Apply now – don’t wait
Just so you know – young people can now apply to the Matt Kendall Foundation at any point in the year – we realise how important it is to be responsive. The Trustees will consider each application on merit, but reserve the right to reintroduce rounds of grants and application deadlines at any time.