French national, Essouma spent his youth aspiring to become a sports coach and professional sprinter. Sadly, after suffering a severe injury, his dreams of competing in the 2022 World Indoor Championship were unexpectedly shattered – and so was his confidence. However, after working with Sport 4 Life UK, Essouma was able to completely re-engineer his life and turn his passion for sport into a career.
Essouma said: “Having moved to the West Midlands specifically to train, my accident meant I suddenly lacked purpose. Adjusting to a new home and language is difficult enough, but I now also needed to say goodbye to a lifelong dream and think about a completely different future for myself”
Not wanting to return to France, Essouma took a full-time job at Mcdonald’s while he improved his English and looked for sports-related career opportunities. Before long, he had up-skilled enough to secure a job as a personal trainer in Coventry. Finally, things were looking up, and Essouma was relieved to return to sport – then COVID hit.
Essouma continued with his trademark resilience, but as experienced by many young people, each lockdown brought a job loss, and Essouma began to lose faith.
He said: “Sport keeps me going, so I knew I had to find something sports-related. So, when I applied for Universal Credit, and they told me how Sport 4 Life could help me, I knew it was a sign.”
The dramatic rise in youth unemployment and the cost of living increases in the West Midlands have meant more young people, like Essouma, are signing up for Universal Credit just to get by. Sport 4 Life works closely with Job Centres and citizens’ advice to help reduce the dependence on government services and improve young people’s employability and key life skills – helping them move into sustained education, employment, or training.
“SPORT 4 LIFE HELPED ME PURSUE MY DREAM OF BECOMING A CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER AND SUPPORTED MY MENTAL HEALTH THROUGHOUT”
Essouma said: “Sport 4 Life motivated me to become the best version of myself. They highlighted different options and opportunities open to me”.
“Thanks to Sport 4 Life, I completed a SIA [Security Industry Authority] course and enrolled in a Personal Trainer course. As a result, I’ve become a Youth Engagement Officer with Sport 4 Life and help deliver crime prevention and community outreach intervention services.”.
“I’ve found hope again!”.