SAILING and rowing are sports traditionally dominated by higher classes because they involve specialised and frequently expensive equipment and facilities. As a result, an Old Etonian has won a medal in both sports at every Olympic Games since 1992. While The AHOY Centre isn’t looking to produce the next Steve Redgrave, downriver from The Boat Race, the charity is using sailing and rowing to change lives.
Based in Deptford, one of London’s most deprived areas, The AHOY Centre has provided disadvantaged, at-risk youth and disabled people with training through sailing, rowing and water-sport activities since 2004.
Their flagship scheme is a year-long ‘Pathway to Employment’ apprenticeship, designed to equip young people with the skills they need for careers on or off the water. Apprentices on the scheme are taught valuable communications skills, leadership abilities and problem-solving techniques while improving confidence and self-esteem.
Other opportunities extend from Royal Yachting Association sailing courses to apprenticeships in activity leadership, as well as land-based activities, such as after-school clubs, all of which build life skills, self-confidence, and team building, which help with finding employment.
Dan O’Sullivan, Head of Fundraising at AHOY said:
“We are passionate about helping less fortunate young people secure futures and careers they can be proud of and we believe sailing, rowing and water sports has the power to do this, despite their elitist reputation.”
Akoreda Adesina and Keon Ste-Froix are two recent graduates of the scheme who have gone on to careers in maritime thanks to the skills learnt at The AHOY Centre.
Akoreda first came to the UK from Nigeria on his own four years ago and hasn’t looked back since undertaking an apprenticeship with The AHOY Centre. After bonding with the other apprentices like family, Akoreda is now looking to get his Boat Master’s licence with a reputable maritime firm and has ambitions to become a captain.
Keon says he wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the apprenticeship to anybody, especially those less fortunate.
“The work that it does, especially for youth who have been abandoned, or have been in the system, I think it definitely provides them with a lifeline and an opportunity to do better.”
New enrolments are being encouraged to apply for AHOY’s next Apprenticeship programme due to start mid-Spring. For further details, please email Zak@ahoy.org.uk.