In our latest ‘Learning at Work Week’ blog, Lisa talks about her preference to learn on the job and the opportunity she had do that as part of the Women’s Euros.
In my role as Development Manager for Rotherham, I was doing a lot of work to help on the Women’s Euros. We got involved because we were writing the Rotherham legacy plan for the FA and I knew we needed the buy-in from the local clubs, because they needed to be able to provide the opportunities for the women and girls to play.
I was spending at least a day a week managing that, but that soon evolved into the fan parks on each matchday, where I was responsible for the physical activity element. One of the ways we were looking to do that was to get the clubs to deliver at the fan parties, which is what prompted the discussions that led to my more hands-on involvement.
Before working in sport, I worked in hospitality and managed events so I have some experience and skills of that sort of thing. Similarly, working on our big School Games events in the past you know the sort of things that need to be in place. It was a baptism of fire getting up to speed and the first one was either going to be amazing, or not quite so amazing! We hadn’t done anything like this before so we were planning for 50 people turning up, but also planning for 500 people to turn up, or maybe even 5,000. There were some brilliant stories to come out of it and I’m sure more to come.
Because of the way we work at YSF with such a broad range of partners, I think we have a wider view of what is going on. We have contacts at the local clubs, right up to some of the senior people in the council working on the Euro’s. So we were able to see how things need to fit together and how it could have a lasting impact on Rotherham.
I met some amazing people, learned new things about myself, worked my socks off and got some brilliant rewards from it. I got to attend the opening match and the final, and I would never have done that if I hadn’t done the work that I did. I’d do it again, even if I didn’t get those two particular rewards. The atmosphere in the fan parties and the stories I got told from the people we worked with is why I do the job – to know that you made an impact. Some of the impact we are part of at YSF takes years, but this was just a one-year thing. We’ve got people involved in sport who would never have been involved in sport. We’ve given people opportunities to do things they would never do.
Personally, I realised that I’m resilient. Sometimes, we don’t put ourselves in situations where something has to be done there and then. Having gone back to do that, you realise you can make decisions, you can cope in high pressure situations and you can work as a team as well on your own.
We work a lot in communities and that was something we needed to do in Rotherham to get them to be interested. That reinforced that the way we work is potentially the right way to work. It also showed how hard it is. We were going in to try and promote a football tournament to people who are not remotely interested or on their radar. But you know that if they get to a match then they will love it – and they did.
I think I learn more from ‘doing stuff’ than from reading or sitting and listening. It’s not to say I don’t learn from those sorts of things, but being with people and doing is something I enjoy more than those things. Having the ability to learn on the job or in the moment, is what I prefer, and I’ve had plenty of opportunities to do that in my time here.