Job title Healthy Lifestyle Officer
Employer Palace For Life Foundation
There's more to football than just 22 players on a pitch…
Hi Chase, could you explain what a Healthy Lifestyle Officer is and does?
In a nutshell I am the programme lead for health and wellbeing within our primary schools working across three London boroughs. My main responsible is to take a whole school approach in delivering healthy messages surrounding physical activity, nutrition and mental health and wellbeing. This involves educating children but also upskilling school staff. I also lead our ‘Tier 2 programmes’, these are programmes in which children have been referred by school staff or health professionals for intervention.
Explain a typical day or week?
A typical week would generally be spilt between office work and delivering sessions. When I’m in the office, I’m generally managing the coaches and logistics of the programme acting as the middle man between programme partners and the coaches delivering sessions. Collecting, monitoring and evaluating data for reports means I’m always chasing someone for something! Other than that, I’m either meeting with partners or colleagues, observing sessions or generally chipping in with the demands of the department. My most enjoyable part of the role though is without doubt getting out there delivering sessions!
Tell us about your career path…
When I left university, I knew I wanted to work within sports development but I had very little job experience. I began working for a small coaching company delivering after-school club sessions and before I knew it my hours grew and I was managing their multi-skill camps. As the business grew, so did my involvement, and I had my first taste of development working on bringing to ideas and projects to life.
To gain a bit more sport development experience I decided to intern part-time for a School Sports Partnership, after my internship was finished they offered me a full-time role. I really took up every opportunity to develop and became really confident in my ability to manage programmes and events, after two years I felt was ready for the next challenge!
I saw the role at Palace and wanted to specialize in health and wellbeing. I’ve been here around 18 months now and my responsibility has grown enormously in that time. I like the fact that there is a clear path of career progression here.
“If someone would had said to me: ‘Do you want to work in football?’ I would have said ‘Yes’, but to be honest I never thought it was achievable.”
What qualifications did you need?
I did a degree in BA (Hons) Sport, Culture & Society at Sheffield Hallam University. When I left university I had very little experience but I built up my coaching hours slowly. I was really fortunate to work alongside some brilliant PE teachers, this give me confidence and helped me to develop. I interned because I knew that I needed more experience on the sports development side of things. Although I had to give up some paid sessions I knew that it would pay off in the long run and in the eventually I ended up reaping the benefits.
Have you always a wanted to work in football?
If someone would had said to me: ‘Do you want to work in football?’ I would have said ‘Yes’, but to be honest I never thought it was achievable. The truth is, though, that football is just the tip of the iceberg to what football clubs and foundations do. We have a real breadth of talent here that have come from all kinds of different industries.
Are you a Crystal Palace fan?
I’m a Reading FC fan but Premier League funding means I’ve always got one eye on Palace.
“Take up every opportunity that is offered! Also, taking on feedback from interviews that can really help in getting over that last hurdle, and identify what you need to work on.”
What next for you?
I’m not one for looking too far ahead but I’m really enjoying my mental health programmes and would love to specialise more in that area. I recently gave a lecture to a group of undergraduate students around coach education and really enjoyed it, so that well could be an avenue. Ultimately, though, my short term goal will be promotion, gain more experience and then eventually on to management level.
What advice would you have for someone who might want to pursue a similar path?
If you want to work in sport but like me struggled to get a foot in the door, then the best way is either volunteering or interning. There are some really good organisations out there that run excellent voluntary and interning programmes, which can help you gain on-the-job experience. Organisations love to promote from within, so it can really improve your chances.
What would tell your younger self knowing what you know now?
Take up every opportunity that is offered! At university, I was peppered with opportunities and work experience within sport and I wish I had taken up more. Also, taking on feedback from interviews that can really help in getting over that last hurdle, and identify what you need to work on.