A kids’ sports coach wants to make his dream to bring the joy of sport to as many Ilkeston children as possible come true.
Mark Levers, who has more than 15 years of coaching experience, gave up a factory job in the late 1990s to pursue a carrer in teaching football and other sports full time.
Now, a year on from last summer’s Olympics, the 41-year-old wants to play on that remaining sporting spirit and offer his expertise to as many Ilkeston youngsters as possible.
“I want children to have as much fun as I get out of it,” said Mark, of West Hallam.
“I try to make my sessions as accessible for all of them as possible.
“I spent all these years working in an upholstery factory, and I thought, ‘why not do something I enjoy?”
He started coaching in 1996 during his holidays from work at the Bobby Charlton Soccer Schools in Manchester and Brighton.
He quickly set up his own football coaching sessions here in Ilkeston at Chaucer junior and infant schools.
As the popular classes expanded he moved on to bigger pitches at Kirk Hallam Community, Technology and Sports College, where at its peak, 65 children were turning up on Saturday mornings, week in week.
But Mark had high hopes: “I wanted to fill the field with 300 kids,” he said.
“It only half-worked really, but we were there for about nine years.” He then moved on to Nutbrook Cricket Club in West Hallam and finally to Rutland Recreation Ground in Ilkeston, where his current regular class is held.
He currently teaches four to six-year-olds from 5pm to 6pm and six to 10-year-olds from 6pm to 7pm, alongside swimming sessions at Victoria Park Leisure Centre for Erewash Borough Council.
But his new plan is to have more sessions like his Tuesday night class at Stanley Common CofE Primary School all over Ilkeston.
“I love teaching children for the simple reason that they have no hang-ups,” said Mark, who has an FA coaching certificate, level two, and an ASA swimming certificate among other qualifications.
“In the wake of the Olympics it would be great to get in to schools and show kids that exercise is a fun thing to do and can even be a career for them.”
If you are a school or another kids’ organisation in Ilkeston or the wider area and you want to start a coaching session, call Mark on 0115 983 27429.