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Twenty-year old Ryan Howard, from Halesowen, has used his volunteering experience to kick-start the career of his dreams.

A promising soccer player, when he was 16 Ryan decided that he wanted his future to be in football training. He had been a member of Stourbridge junior football club, Forest Falcons, since he was a young boy, so to start his coaching career he set up a new football session for local youngsters.

Together with another volunteer, Ryan promoted the new Saturday morning training class and ran it for two years, rain or shine. At the first class six children turned up. This turned into a weekly roll call of 40 five to 10-year olds.

Having gained a solid CV, Ryan then used this experience to get a part-time job with West Bromwich Albion Football Club, for whom he delivered PE lessons at primary schools in Dudley and Worcester.

With his reputation growing stronger, Ryan stepped up his coaching career again, when he gained full-time employment with the Football Association. He now works for the national body training teachers to educate children in PE, coaching football coaches and running his own football centres, where he continues to train youngsters himself.

His next goal is to work for the under-16 England football team.

Ryan said: “I am passionate about football and I’m determined to spend my career in the industry. My volunteering position was invaluable because it taught me how to set something up from scratch. It also gave me the opportunity to reflect on how I should improve.

“I loved my volunteer position, and in fact I still volunteer in my spare time. It took me two years of volunteering to get into the career of my choice and I’d recommend anyone else with a dream to do the same thing. I’ve got a job I love and it all started with helping out on a Saturday morning.”

Unsurprisingly, one of Ryan’s biggest backers is his dad, Dean, who is the secretary of the Forest Falcons.

He said: “I’m incredibly proud of Ryan. He’s a hard-working young man and he’s going for his dream. I reckon that he’s already put in about 400 hours of volunteering and not only has this helped him, but it’s helped the Forest Falcons to be where it is today.

“He has helped to attract many of our young players to the Falcons and he’s trained nine or ten of our teams. Most of those players remain Falcons to this day, and that’s due in part to Ryan’s role. It’s been a pleasure to watch Ryan as he’s found his vocation in life.”

Anyone interested in following Ryan’s example of volunteering to gain employment in football can email Ryan for advice on Ryan.Howard@thefa.com<>