On Sunday 16th October the Jason Roberts Foundation were delighted to host a very unique event – ‘Full Circle’ at the Bridgestone Arena, as former professional footballers gathered en masse to share their journeys, knowledge, and experience of the game, with the local community and aspiring individuals looking to learn more about the inner depths of the game.

The event was supported by the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) with former player Riz Rehman attending alongside the JRF’s Inspire to Achieve Heritage project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Young Brent Foundation, and Connect Stars.

Former professional players, Zesh Rehman, Mikele Leigertwood, Colin Barnes, Jerome Thomas, Marcus Bean, Mark Stein, Edwin Stein, Jamal Campbell Ryce, Richard Langley, Justin Cochrane,  DJ Campbell, Junior Lewis, and Phil Ifil, all came together and delivered a number of sessions, looking at practical coaching and delivery, skill sharing, and personal history sessions to help educate people from the local community and surrounding areas.

The initiative which has taken several months to plan really did come Full Circle on the day of the event, with the name reflecting the individual journey of each of the players who attended, and their contribution on the day, helping to inspire future generations.

With the ongoing partnership between JRF and local Football & Sports Business University, UCFB, a small team of students who are studying different degree courses, are supporting JRF events such as the Full Circle initiative.

The students – Joshua Hall and Matt Jessup who are studying Football Business and Media, Daniel Marshall who is studying Multimedia Sports Journalism, and Alex Hardy who is studying Football Business and Broadcasting, used their collective skills on the day to interview players and other participants, and film and edit a video of the event for JRF. The experience and skills they demonstrated will be used as credits for their degree coursework.

Otis Roberts, CEO of the Foundation commented: “These players were, and still are, an integral part of the community. We felt that an initiative such as this really epitomizes the valuable contribution these individuals can offer, by sharing their stories – their upbringing, playing careers as well as their subsequent careers in football, and their knowledge and expertise. The event enabled participants to have a up close and personal experience and discover key elements of the game and associated careers that will help their development and understanding, allowing them to take their next individual step in the game.

Our first Full Circle event has been a huge success and something that we will certainly look to deliver again in the future.”

Due to the popularity of the event, JRF have organised some follow-on sessions where some participants will visit some of the coaches in their place of work helping to develop community partnerships and employment opportunities for young people.