Volunteering gives teenager her own identity

When Thirteen-Year-Old Ellie Johnson first attend a PL Kicks session, she really struggled to find her own identity as just “one of the twins” alongside identical twin-sister Paige – but after taking the brave step to volunteer on her own with Mansfield Town Football in the Community – Ellie has found her own identity.

As the introverted one of the twins, Ellie found it tough to socialise and make new friends – often standing to the side and showing a hesitance towards getting involved with the group of over twenty other girls at Meden School.

However, after some encouragement from the coaches, Ellie began to become more involved within games and jumped at the opportunity to become a volunteer when the chance presented itself.

PL Kicks Coordinator Amy Page said “Both Ellie and Paige found it difficult to not be referred to as ‘the twins’ which is something they’ve faced their entire lives, Paige is more confident and can adapt easily, but Ellie found it difficult initially which is why we made it a priority to put on lots of communication dominant games at the beginning.

“It was clear that she enjoyed these and soon started attending other sessions, making new friends along the way – she’s a totally different person which is massive for her social development”

Speaking about the change she’s noticed in herself, thirteen-year-old Ellie said “Before I started coming I was really shy, but now but now I feel a lot more confident in myself and I feel like I can make new friends.

“I really want to become a coach when I’m older because I like helping others and making them feel like a part of something, like PL Kicks has done for me”

Ellie started volunteering with Football in the Community in January 2020 and regularly attends our Monday evening session at River Maun Recreation Centre, helping PL Kicks Coordinator Amy Page run the games, and more recently, helped out on match-day with our Mascots

“There was over two-thousand people in the crowd but it didn’t bother me at all and I think that’s because of the confidence I’ve gained – I find it easier now to talk to new people and express myself.

“I started volunteering because my sister got a part time job and was really enjoying it, I didn’t feel as confident in working with people I didn’t know, so volunteering with Amy and Football in the Community was something I felt I could do. I’m really glad I did because I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone but in an enjoyable way – I’m going to keep doing it and think that others to do the same”

Ellie’s mum Kerry Johnson said “Ellie is fairly quiet but she’s been talking about this [volunteering] a lot more than what she would do with anything else, I’ve definitely seen a change in her, she’s becoming a much more confident person – it’s given her a focus and something to aim for”

PL Kicks Coordinator Amy Page added “I think it’s given her a lot of confidence, the exposure to working in different environments has really helped – it almost gives her a foot in the door for any future options within the community that she wants to follow.

“Watching her grow as a person really gives me satisfaction, knowing that through the PL Kicks Programme and spending time with us has motivated her to want to come along and give up her free time is a big plus for me.

“Hopefully Ellie’s story can inspire others; I think it shows that everyone is their own individual person and not what people perceive them to be. Giving something back is really rewarding and fun – it also helps people go on a journey of self-discovery which is what PL Kicks is all about”

Premier League Kicks sessions run publically on a Monday at River Maun Recreation Centre, 5-6 pm for School Years 6, 7 and 8, as well as at the One Call Stadium, 6-7pm on Friday’s for years 9, 10 and 11 – Mansfield Town Football in the Community also runs a number of sessions within Schools – all sessions are FREE of charge. To get more information about Kicks sessions, visit www.tinyurl.com/FITCKICKS    

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