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Steve Goodsell 's mission to tap into Olympic feelgood factor for Colchester United
HE is a man on a mission. Steve Goodsell has taken on the role of chief executive of the Colchester United Community Sports Trust.
And his mission, which he has willingly accepted, is to draw more people into the far-reaching and ever-growing Colchester United family.
A total of 80,000 people a year take part in activities run by the trust, with ages ranging from three to 90.
But Steve wants to expand this, and promote Colchester United into the bargain.
The trust has a dual role. Its first is to support the U’s in promoting sport and nurturing the talent of the future.
But, and just as important, it wants to use sport to promote education, healthy living and well-being.
Steve has just the pedigree for his new job. He was the regional development manager with the Football Association before becoming chief executive of Southend United’s community and educational trust for six years.
In that time, the club was awarded the title of Community Club of the Year at the Football League awards two years in a row – an outstanding and probably never-to-be-repeated achievement. Steve is an avid football fan but, by his own admission, never made the grade as a professional footballer.
He said: “I never hit the heady heights of a professional player – I was never really good enough.
“I got involved in coaching and working with young players, running youth football teams. That was my field of dreams.”
The sports trust aims to encourage children to achieve their best – whatever that may be.
He said: “Coaches have to keep an eye out for a future champion, but also support the child who will never be brilliant but can be part of a team.
“It is incredibly satisfying as a coach to see the difference you can make. It is about bringing out the best in people, giving them a sense of self-worth.” Steve did not intend to take on the job at Colchester United. He was working as a consultant and still living in Thorpe Bay, near Southend, when the opportunity presented itself.
He said: “I got hooked by Colchester. The club has a feelgood factor about it. It has a real sense of what is can do, rather than what it can’t.
“It is an incredibly ambitious club which is run well. The chairman, Robbie Cowling , is a successful and entrepreneurial businessman who has sound business acumen.
“He does what he believes is right; he will not be pressurised into making wrong decisions.”
The trust uses Colchester United as a unique selling brand for its work in the community.
Steve said: “There are kids who struggle at school. It does not mean they are causing problems, but just that the school system is not right for them.
“They need a different approach. “They can come here to a more relaxed setting and be guided by someone wearing a Colchester United badge. We run IT courses for adults who would never go back into a school or college classroom.
“There is also the futsal scholarship, through which students can get a qualification which helps them get a place at university, and the transfer window, an educational programme to help youngsters struggling with self-esteem, peer pressure or bullying.”
Body Care 2012 taught primary schoolchildren how their bodies worked while a new pilot programme, OK 2 Be Me, will tackle the issue of body image.
He said: “You can have girls and boys as young as eight who say they are fat or ugly and feel worthless. We want to show how unrealistic some of the media representations are and challenge perceptions.”
There could not be a better time for Steve to push forward with the trust’s ambitions. The country is riding on a sporting high from the success of the Olympics and Paralympics.
Steve said: “We have cheered on the heroes when they have won gold, but it is all about participation. Our staff deliver a whole range of sports and we can provide pathways to our or other clubs.”
So will this approach help to create a World Cup winning England football team?
Again Steve is clear. “Coaching is important, but there are things which fundamentally need to change in our approach to football,” he said.
“There needs to be a greater emphasis on developing technique and skill, rather than just a team winning points or a cup.”