Preston’s Centre of Sporting Excellence graduate Niraj Ganatra is using the experiences he gained from his education with the Trust to inspire the younger generation through his current casual coaching role with PNECET.
Niraj is a current student on the Community Football Coaching and Administration degree programme, offered by the Trust in conjunction with the University of South Wales and the EFL Trust, and is continuing to work in a casual capacity alongside his studies.
Niraj works in schools across Preston on the Premier League Primary Stars programme and has also supported the Trust’s provision on the National Citizen Service programme and its half-term Soccer School camps, most recently during June half-term.
His experience of coaching has allowed him to recognise how he can support young people, helping participants with their technical and tactical development in sport as well as with their personal development through improving their social skills, confidence and more.
“When I used to play football as a young child, I was always intrigued as to the sessions that were planned by the coaches,” Niraj said, speaking to PNE.Com as part of UK Coaching Week.
“Once I got onto the BTEC programme with Preston North End Community and Education Trust, I got a lot of opportunities to start coaching – in schools, Futsal evening classes, and programmes for 16 to 18-year-olds.
“I’ve also done a couple of sessions here and there at the Academy. It’s just helped me to realise what you can achieve as a coach and how you can develop people.
“I enjoy helping players to achieve different skills – it’s just not technical or tactical, you can also help them psychologically, help them with their mental health, or help them to develop social skills and develop relationships with other participants.”
As well as supporting those he is coaching in a session, Niraj has found that his role as a coach across several programmes has aided his own professional development, too.
“Within coaching, it puts a great smile on my face once players start to achieve different things and learn different things as well,” Niraj continued.
“Coaching has helped me to calm down a lot and helped me to realise what people can achieve once they put their minds to it.
“It’s helped me to see that if I can plan a session for a certain number of children, then I can do it for anyone. It might be daunting at first to try to coach older people but it can still be achieved.”
The Trust’s aim to connect people and inspire generations by utilising the power and appeal of Preston North End and wider reach of sport as a whole has been one that Niraj has come to understand well in his role as a coach.
With one of the themes of UK Coaching Week focusing on #CoachingForAll, Niraj has been pleased to witness first-hand how sport can unite people from all backgrounds.
“I know that sport can bring people together and different sport sessions and PE lessons can help people to have a smile on their face while they’re doing sport, it can help people to make friends without even saying too much, and it can help to build different relationships. It allows everyone to be involved, promoting equality as well.”