Young Citizen Award: Football coach Monique Benjamin, 14, develops her confidence in training spotlight

Young citizen nominee Monique Benjamin with her coach Neal Akhtar

Young citizen nominee Monique Benjamin with her coach Neal Akhtar - Credit: Archant

A football coach has dramatically developed her confidence to take on a staring role with a youth club’s under 10’s team.

Monique Benjamin, 14, has been nominated for the Recorder/ Redbridge Rotary Young Citizen Awards in recognition of her hard work as a volunteer.

She has given up every Saturday for more than a year to coach Frenford Youth Club’s youngsters at The Jack Carter Centre, in The Drive, Ilford.

Monique, a pupil at Ilford Ursuline Academy, admits she took a back seat in training sessions at the beginning.

She said: “I started off quietly – I just watched the other coaches and saw how they coached.

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“I taught my little brother Stefan how to ride a bike, so I used that experience to develop and coach the team.”

Soon Monique was thinking up her own training drills to get her message across to the group of footballers.

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She said her parents were delighted when they heard the news that their daughter had been nominated for the Young Citizen Award.

“It makes me feel good to be nominated,” said Monique. “I did not think I would be mentioned.

“It is nice to know someone thinks I have done well in something.”

Monique said if she wins the award it will help her achieve her goal of being a physical education coach.

Neal Akhtar, 31, the club’s head football coach, has seen Monique develop since she began coaching last year.

“When she first started she was introverted and was not very outgoing and sociable,” he said. “She has grown in confidence quite a bit and is now leading the sessions sometimes.

“She is very good with the kids. I now tend to put her with the quieter ones.”

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