Laurel Collins is the Chairwoman for Kent FA’s award winning Youth Council. Besides this, she is a qualified referee, Football Futures leader, coach and player, who has helped develop the Eighth Wonder so more young people like her, can have opportunities in the game.
Laurel identified her love of the game from the age of 12 and realised she wanted to pursue a career in the area she was passionate about.
“My family and friends started asking me about my future, and what area I was interested in for a job. I didn’t know specifically which aspect of football I wanted to be involved in, but I knew it had to be in the game I love.”
The Eighth Wonder Programme acknowledges the importance of volunteering in a successful career, and supports young girls who aspire to be involved in the game. Volunteering allowed Laurel to discover different pathways into football which she hadn’t previously thought of.
“Volunteering helped me achieve my goals, as it was through my volunteering that I found out my love for coaching and refereeing and these where pathways I hadn't yet thought of as a young female playing football.”
It all started by volunteering at my local girls club where I gained over 200 football futures hours and so I was put on my level one course. From this I have achieved my coaching levels enabling me to work at various coaching companies.”
“But while I was coaching as a volunteer, I wanted to try something new and so decided to referee a couple of games for the girls. I really enjoyed it and I wanted to do this until I could do my coaching badges.”
Laurel understands that volunteering enabled her develop her personal skills such as her confidence, which then gave her the stepping stone she needed to become more involved in other areas of football.
“The experience I gained from volunteering enabled me to go on to the Kent FA Youth Council where great opportunities were opened up to me and I was able to develop myself as a person and gain contacts within the football world, this has allowed me to do coaching and refereeing within Kent as well as becoming the Chair Woman for the Kent FA Youth Council.”
The Eighth Wonder Programme aims to give all women with a passion for football the continued support they need to enjoy and experience a number of different aspects of the game.
“One thing that I was missing when I started this, was someone in particular to talk to and that I knew would always be on my side. The Eighth Wonder Programme provides these new girls coming through with this, as they provide you with a personal mentor so that the girls know they have someone to speak to and support them through any questions or worries they may have going forwards.”
Laurel’s advice for anyone interested in signing up for the game would be to consider the amazing skills and networking that the programme can provide you with and try something new.
“If you are thinking about it, just to do it. You will have no regrets and it's a great opportunity to improve your skills but also improve you as a person, as well as meet new people and contacts.”
“The programme can help young people to pursue working in
football as this will enable them to meet and gain contacts within the industry. It also provides great opportunities for developing themselves and gives them the ability to make friends for life.”