Falcons Community celebrates National Apprenticeship Week

Monday 06 February 2023 Written by: Adam

Falcons Community’s HITZ programme, in partnership with Newcastle College and Premiership Rugby, is an education and employability course which aims to re-engage young people using sport as a vehicle.

As part of National Apprenticeship Week February (6-12), Falcons Community would like to shine a spotlight on their former HITZ student, Michael Pentland, who now works as a valuable apprentice for Newcastle Rugby Foundation.

Michael has demonstrated how rugby is helping create a new generation of apprenticeships, and highlights how apprenticeships act as great steppingstones, helping gain qualifications and new skills.

Michael’s loss of two close male family role models had such a detrimental effect that at his lowest he felt suicidal.

He credits HITZ with giving him the confidence to keep going. Talking to his tutors and peers on the programme about his experiences and mental health challenges helped Michael find focus and direction. This, coupled with his high standards of work and polite nature, earned him an apprenticeship with Newcastle Rugby Foundation.

Talking about what the apprenticeship has done for him, Michael said: “My apprenticeship with the Falcons Community had such a positive impact on me and my personal growth, helping me to socialise with people again.

“After a few years of no real interaction with people, it was hard to settle in. However, all the staff made me feel welcome and I was soon able to speak to colleagues on a one-to-one level.

“It has taught me to coach myself into living a healthier lifestyle, both mentally and physically, alongside giving me hands-on experience to develop skills to become a fully qualified Level 2 RFU coach.

“My ambition is to be offered a full-time job at the end of the apprenticeship as it has helped confirm I want to take coaching further, as a full-time coach or by teaching sport in school.”

Melanie Magee, head of Newcastle Rugby Foundation, says of Michael: “Since joining as an apprentice coach Michael has inspired so many of us at the club.

“He has shown a huge amount of hard work and dedication with his apprenticeship role, and it has been great to watch his progression working alongside Newcastle Rugby Foundation Development Officers.

“Michael began co-delivering on our primary school programmes, early-year programmes and assisting our social inclusion manager with the new intake on our HITZ programme.

“Michael is now a fully qualified Level 2 RFU coach delivering sessions in schools and on half-term holiday coaching camps, helping pass on his enthusiasm for life and sport to the younger generations.”

For more information about Falcons Community HITZ programme, please email david.shotton@newcastle-falcons.co.uk .