Former Empire apprentice is shortlisted for a national award

Coach Core Awards 2024 Jen 5

A former apprentice at Empire Fighting Chance has been shortlisted for an award.

Jen Mendonca aged 19 from Yate in Bristol, made the final four nominees for the National Coach Core Apprentice of the Year category.

The ceremony took place on Wednesday 7th February in London, at the Kensington Oval, the home of Surrey Cricket Club.

The Coachcore Awards at the Kensington Oval in London

Coachcore are a sport apprenticeship provider that match apprentices to sport organisations and providers across the UK. The organisation state: “It is a way for you to bring a young person into your workforce who you can develop and instil with the skills your business needs.

And for the young person it is, “an opportunity to step into the world of work whilst still getting the education and development that they will need to develop a full career.”

The programme is a Level 2 apprenticeship in Community Activator Coaching, with the young person engaged approximately 30 hours a week, of which 80% of that time is part of the workforce, and the remaining time completing course work.

Jen (centre) at the Coachcore Awards

The annual Coachcore award ceremony honours apprentices that have achieved above and beyond for their organisation.

Jen was selected in the best apprentice category, and started as an apprentice with Empire Fighting chance in 2022, going onto to get full time employment with us as a community outreach coach.

Starting out with the Princes Trust whilst knowing she wanted to be involved in working with young people, she was initially hesitant about the boxing element at Empire, having had no experience of this at all. She explained: “Well yeah I was very hesitant. My teacher found me the apprenticeship here, and I didn’t know much about boxing, and the gym at that time was mainly full of men, so yes I felt a bit nervous at first.”

By her own admission she wasn’t that confident with people, she continued: “I wasn’t as comfortable talking to people, and particularly young people at first, but got better in time. The staff all kind of helped me out with that, and made me feel at ease and my confidence just grew and grew.”

As time went on, Jen started to not only feel more comfortable but really enjoy the boxing environment.

The Coachcore conference celebrates the best of apprentices in the whole of the Uk

How did Jen feel on being nominated for this award? “Surprised, but happy, " she replied, "as when I was told I would be speaking at the event I was nervous. It was in London and at the cricket ground, which had an amazing balcony which looked over the whole of the ground. It was very flash. With free food and drink, “she added.

Jen didn’t win, but congratulated the person that did. “Madison was from Leicester, and I said well done to her. I wasn’t disappointed in anyway as was just pleased to have been nominated really which felt like a real achievement in itself.”

Jen spoke on stage for six minutes and was asked a series of questions.  “They asked me what I did before the apprenticeship, how I got involved with them, and my future goals. It was daunting but I did it, and to be honest doing that felt like the next step. Speaking in front of people on stage is the start of my confidence rising even more.”

Jen was nervous about speaking on the panel at first but grew in confidence throughout

Now that Jen is working as a full time member of staff at Empire she reflected on how it was different for her ,“Obviously now I’m in a job, it’s slightly different. I think you have a lot more responsibilities.

You can't rely on someone like when you are in an apprenticeship, but it’s good, and am enjoying it.”

All in all the apprenticeship was a real springboard for Jen, and she is keen to recommend it to others. She stated: “If have any doubts just do it. If you feel low in confidence, just remember you can do it. Don't let anyone stop you. You will get over your fears. Go for it.”

Jen strongly recommends starting an apprenticeship

The life skills Jen learnt she feels, were pivotal in preparing her for the workplace, learning “time management, people skills, and getting into a routine.

Adding, "and now I guess I can add public speaking to that list!"

Congratulations on your nomination Jen – we are all super proud of you!

If you want to know more about Coachcore apprenticeships then  click here.