Back in 2014, Sam Cotton was working as an electrician's apprentice and "hated every minute of it". Discovering Coachmakers not only rescued him from his tyrant boss, but put him on the path towards his dream of becoming an elite football coach.

In the three years since Sam's daily toolkit changed from a bag of tools to a bag of footballs, he has flourished personally and professionally. He has also accumulated experience and qualifications aplenty, and is now on his way to university in September.

It was through Coachmakers and StreetGames that Sam's initial engagement with sports coaching began. Volunteering on our doorstep sport sessions "ignited" his desire to change career.

"I was really shy back then, like a little mouse. I wouldn't talk to anyone," he remembers. "Working with Tash and my peers at Coachmakers on those doorstep sports sessions brought me out of my shell. They made me a more confident person and a better communicator. I was in a bad place when I was an electrician, but it made me a lot happier."

Soon after Sam enrolled in Coachmakers' Level 2 course, he was supported through his FA Level 1 and FA Youth Module 1 qualifications. Once he had progressed to Coachmakers Level 3, he was dispatched to community sport placements with StreetGames and to local schools, working for Acorn Sports and Go Active delivering PE and after-school sports clubs.

His favourite placement, though, was as Assistant Coach to Biscovey Youth FC's girls' team. Initially scheduled to last a year, he ended up staying for three! For the 2016/17 season, he was promoted to Head Coach. Coachmakers supported him through his FA Level 2 and Youth Module 2 courses, and he took on a further role at Cornwall FA's Girls Advanced Coaching Centre.

Sam's next move is to Gloucestershire University to do a Foundation Sports Coaching and Development degree. He sees it as a platform to achieve his ultimate goal of a coaching role at an elite football academy.

"If it wasn’t for Coachmakers, I wouldn’t be going to uni," he admits. "I had fairly decent GCSEs, but I don’t think I was anywhere near university standard. I'd never even thought about it. I just thought I'd pick up a trade and that would be all I was good for.

"But then Coachmakers made me feel like I was top of my class. It made me realise I actually am quite good at something! It felt like a calling. Their support was fantastic. I wouldn’t be half the coach or person I am now if it wasn’t for all the experience and courses they put me through. Now higher education seems like a natural next step."

Sam is keen to pay tribute to Head of Coachmakers, Tash Mills, and Tutor/Assessor Beth Willshaw for the "personal touch" they showed as tutors.

"Tash even came to my house to persuade my parents to allow me to join Coachmakers!" reveals Sam. "My family weren't fully behind it at first. Money's always been a struggle for us and sports coaching didn't seem an obvious way out of that, especially as I'd started as an electrician. But Tash talked them round!

"I could talk about her all day. Her and Beth are the best tutors. When it comes to understanding how people work and how students learn and how to cater for each individual, they are the best. If it wasn’t for Tash in particular, I wouldn't be where I am today."