AN inspirational speech by an academy volunteer resulted in a family stepping forward to offer an 18-month sponsorship and a dream full time role.
Lewis Chambers’ hard work with BAFC under 18s has now been rewarded with a paid position thanks to a kind gesture by Alyson and David Hewlett, from Barton under Needwood.
Academy manager Mike Whitlow explained: “The couple found it inspirational to hear from a young man with such drive to be successful and who equally wants youngsters to succeed, and an offer of sponsorship was forthcoming. It is one of the kindest gestures I have ever seen.”
Lewis is working alongside Paul Whitworth involved in strength and conditioning, full time with the under 18s.
Lewis is a young scholar who has come out of football, who took himself to university, achieving high grades and a degree in sports science, and wanted to get back into the game. Burton Albion were able to help but only on a volunteer basis.
Lewis came in 2-3 days a week at the end of the 2014 season and made an immediate impact.
The club held a parents’ evening to emphasise the focus on ensuring the youngsters see how important education is alongside their football training.
During the evening, Lewis was asked to talk about his time as a scholar and how he managed the reality of professional training.
On plugging his memory stick into the PowerPoint presentation Lewis found that it didn't work, but went on to hold a captivated audience speaking about his time as a scholar and how he had adjusted to going back into full time education.
Following the meeting Alyson and David came forward and wanted to see Lewis enjoy a paid role within the club. When it was explained the club was up to budget, the offer of sponsorship was made.
Lewis is now on a full-time, 18-month contract which means he can gain the experience he needs.
Mike says that the scholars listen to what Lewis has to say, knowing he has personal experience of where the lads are now at.
Lewis said: “After gaining my degree, I knew I wanted to work in football but also had the realisation of how hard it is to secure a job. So when the opportunity came up at BAFC, I grabbed it, just praying there may be a role at the end.
“Mike asked me to do a speech about my time as a scholar and university and how I arrived at the club, effectively my journey so far. I was blessed that night that Alyson and David were in the front row and were inspired. They came and spoke with me at the end of the evening to congratulate me on my talk, to express that they felt the message I delivered was wonderful and would be a real help to youngsters. This is when they said they would only be to happy to provide sponsorship for me. I couldn't believe it, it was a dream. I'm really lucky and owe them a lot.”
Lewis is enjoying his Academy role immensely, working with the lads on how they move, their strength and power, all working towards the opportunity to gain a scholarship and the chance of a first team contract.
David said: “Lewis was inspirational and ultimately, we just felt that somebody that has so much drive deserved a leg up and, equally, we felt wonderful that evening to help. Good things should happen to good people, and I know we didn't know Lewis but his message came through loud and clear.”