Story added: 8th March 2019
Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week
To mark National Apprenticeship Week, we focus on the story of 20-year-old Josh Baylis, a member of the Foundation’s apprenticeship programme.
20-year-old Josh’s first involvement with the Foundation came when he attended a PAN Disability session, aged 12, having found life difficult when playing for a local grassroots team.
Josh, who has autism, loved watching and playing football, but when the environment at his local team changed, he turned away from the sport, as his mum Rachel explained:
“From a young age Josh’s obsession was football. Every Saturday afternoon watching the scores come through, he would know how many goals Thierry Henry had scored that season and how many he had throughout his career.
“He then wanted to start playing and we found a club that catered for his needs and things were great for two years, but then a different coach came in and that all changed.
“Josh was used as a scapegoat for the team and it resulted in him being bullied, not only at football but also school.
“He just went in to his shell and rejected football completely. He wanted nothing to do with it and we weren’t even allowed to talk about it, watch it on TV or live. This was his passion, gone.”
After researching disability teams, Josh found the Community Sports Foundation and attended his first session, along with 14 other participants.
“I absolutely loved it”, said Josh.
“I enjoyed the sessions but I also wanted to play at the highest level I could.”
After six months, Josh was invited to the U16s Disability Player Development Centre where he was able to compete with players of a similar ability level and hone the skills he had learnt at a younger age.
“We were so pleased he had started to play again. The sparkle was back and the football-loving Josh had returned” said Rachel.