Young person outside wearing a football top

TJ's story: Dreaming of a career in football

TJ, 20, was supported by the Centrepoint Bursary to complete a professional football scouting qualification. He is now working as a scout for a London Football Club, something he says would not have been possible without that financial support from Centrepoint. He has dreams of one day running his own football club.

He also got involved with our 2022 Christmas #NotComingHome Campaign.

Living in overcrowded conditions

TJ was studying for his GCSEs whilst living in overcrowded conditions with extended family. He was sharing a bedroom and there would often be someone staying on the sofa. TJ played a lot of sports after school and on weekends, so he would try to stay out of the house wherever possible, but this wasn’t always easy and he often felt like an inconvenience.

The Centrepoint Bursary

When he was first referred into Centrepoint via social services, TJ found it challenging to navigate the system. But his key worker Rhys was on hand, and helped TJ understand what he was entitled to in terms of benefits, grants and bursaries.

“Rhys always helped me get things done really quickly. He was able to get me access to a bike really quickly and helped to explain which external bursaries I was entitled to, as well as the Centrepoint Bursary.”

TJ, whose passion is sport, wanted to start a course in football coaching and scouting. The Centrepoint Bursary were able to provide £600 for TJ for the Professional Football Scouting Association (PFSA) Level 2 Talent Identification in Football course, which is an industry leading, internationally recognised CPD accredited certification. It has been taken by many ex-professional footballers and current Heads of Recruitment to further their knowledge of Talent Identification. It is the only Level 2 across the globe that is confidently and exclusively endorsed by Instat, the world-leading provider of scouting analysis software to elite clubs across the globe.

Working as a scout

“After completing the course, I was hoping to get an internship with Cambridge United and although that fell through, I actually ended up getting work with another prestigious London club and I really don’t think that would have happened had I not had the scouting course on my CV.

At the time, that course was not affordable at all, so I was immensely grateful to the bursary for helping me. The fact that I was able to get help and have now been working at at a big London club, that would not have been possible without the support I had.”

TJ is now in his second year at university studying Football Coaching and Management. For the duration of his studies, he will be supported by the Bursary, which provides a termly fund for every young person who is supported by Centrepoint and at university.

TJ hopes his passion for football management, coaching and scouting culminates in setting up his own football academy in the future.

"I am doing a lot of networking with clubs at the moment, to get to grips with how running your own club works, and what you need. It would be nice to say that in five years' time I'm running my own club, but I’m just happy to see where things take me to be honest. I don't have any worries for the future, I’m just doing everything I can to put myself in a good position; to be well qualified and connected.”

Nurturing a love of sport

For TJ, his love of sport goes beyond keeping fit - he is fully aware of how much sport supports his mental health, particularly as a form of escapism from the troubles he's faced. 

“Sports are very time consuming. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it and the more other distractions in your life just kind of disappear. It's always easier to remove yourself from any situation just by going out and kicking a football; it also keeps you out of trouble. I've definitely found that where I was living, trouble was constantly popping up. Our way was always just play sports. That was it.”

Whilst at Centrepoint, TJ met other young people who also had a talent and passion for sports, and even managed to help one resident carry his passion through to his working life. 

“I've seen people in Centrepoint accommodation who are really talented footballers. I met one 19-year-old who was a very talented goalkeeper. After talking with him, I put him in contact with some people and he's now playing semi-professionally.”

That is the power of the work done at Centrepoint: giving young people the opportunities they deserve, whether that's putting a roof over their heads or providing them with the funds to get through university, means they can reach their full potential, and help others to do the same. And TJ is hugely grateful to all the support he’s received from Centrepoint that's allowed him to realise his dream:

“I've just been really appreciative of everything that Rhys and the rest of Centrepoint do to support young people. It seems that it might seem a small thing to say that you’ve helped a young person by paying for a course, but that course took me so far, I wouldn't be where I am without it.”

TJ was keen to get involved with our #NotComingHome Christmas campaign because of the link to football and the fact that around 30,000 young people will be facing homelessness this Christmas.

"I want to support other young people facing homelessness, unstable housing and difficult family situations and to show them that there is help out there and not to give up."

Thanks to TJ for sharing his inspirational story with us!