Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill put students through their paces at the launch of a course created to fast-track young people into sports coaching.
The Olympic great is an ambassador for the new Institute of Sporting Futures (ISF) programme, which combines sports education with work placements for school leavers.
She joined students at Sheffield’s Notre Dame High School today for a series of sessions led by young sports coaches from First Step Sports Group, which has set up the initiative.
Notre Dame in Ranmoor is one of three schools and colleges, the others being in Leeds and Hull, where the course will be offered from this September – and applications are now open.
ISF is a two-year programme, with 24 places available in each city in the first year. which is described as an alternative to A levels for young people looking for a more vocational route into employment.
Participants will spend two days a week in the classroom studying and three days on work placements at local primary schools and elsewhere getting hands-on coaching experience.
At the end of the course they will have the qualifications needed to go straight into work or on to university.
Dame Jessica, who has helped develop the course, said: “I know there are a lot of young people who see their future in sport and this will enable them to gain the practical skills and valuable qualifications they need to turn a passion into a career.
“I couldn’t have achieved everything I did without my coach and the rest of my team, like my nutritionist and physio.
“This will give more people the opportunity to support the next generation of sports stars, from inspiring them as primary school teachers to helping them reach the top as elite coaches.”
Dame Jessica added that she owed a lot not just to her coach Tony Minichiello but to the teachers who helped her realise her potential, including Mr Eccles and Mr Cotgreave at King Ecgbert School.
She ruled out a personal career move into coaching, saying ‘I lack the patience for that’.
But the 2012 Olympic heptathlon champion, who revealed her four-year-old son Reggie loves sport, especially tennis and swimming, said she wanted to encourage as many young people as possible to get into sport.
James Moore, the founder and owner of First Step Sports Group, said: “Academic courses and A levels aren’t right for everyone – and for those with a real passion for sport, our programme is an invaluable first step that opens up clear pathways into the sports and leisure industry, both in the UK and across the globe.”
Notre Dame headteacher Steve Davies described the course as a ‘great opportunity’ to offer a different path for students pursuing a sports career.
And 13-year-old Lucy Braddock, a keen footballer who took part in the training sessions, called the programme ‘really exciting’.