Clayton grew up in Hapurhey and first came to Manchester Youth Zone aged about 10 when it first opened, for something to do. There really was nothing in the local area at that time for young people and Clayton soon became a regular.
Football became his passion – he loved the football holiday clubs. He wasn’t loving school nothing else really grabbed his interest and he developed his skills so much that he played both for MYZ and a local team.
For lots of reasons life for Clayton at that time wasn’t easy. His peers were getting into trouble and Clayton now describes himself as ‘hot headed’ that often resulted in angry outburst and challenging behaviour – which he recognised could stop him from being included in some activities and how he was perceived and developing as a young person. During that time Clayton remembers that the youth workers never excluded him or gave up on him. He says ‘They helped me open up and changed me’ – over the years helping him develop strategies that meant he could manage his anger better, make wiser choices about the stuff he got involved with and the people he moved away from.
Through the last 10 years with constant support, Clayton says ‘I gradually turned a corner and was able to manage my anger and not allow it to get in the way of my future’. He finished school successfully and went on to Hopwood Hall to study Sports.
Clayton was already over 18 when lockdown ended and too old to attend our youth club sessions. However, he stayed in touch with key Youth Zone staff throughout who continued to coach and mentor him, talking through his goals and aspirations encouraging him to work on his future plans to become a Football Coach. Staff encouraged him to return to MYZ and a young leader to start the active leader’s course. During his time on active leaders Clayton learnt new coaching methods and took himself out of his comfort zone learning about coaching different sports. He now works with City in the Community – working across the city to coach football but most importantly provide other young people with advice and support to help them achieve their goals. He even comes back to MYZ twice a week to run sessions with the next generation of young people coming through our ranks.