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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Cullybackey lad awarded Community Ambassador Award by NRC

Ryan McClintock and his mum Wendy pictured with Principal & Chief Executive of Northern Regional College, Mel Higgins at the recent Student Awards ceremony at the Ballymena campus. 

Ryan McClintock and his mum Wendy pictured with Principal & Chief Executive of Northern Regional College, Mel Higgins at the recent Student Awards ceremony at the Ballymena campus. 

Studying Sports Coaching and Development at Northern Regional College has created many exciting opportunities for a young County Antrim student.


After passing his GCSEs, instead of going back to his former school, Ryan McClintock from Cullybackey, opted to study a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sports Coaching and Development at the College’s campus in Ballymena. 

As part of this course, students have an opportunity to participate in the Irish Football Association (IFA) Education and Employability Programme and achieve a range of IFA coaching awards and other accredited qualifications.


Having completed the IFA programme, Ryan secured paid employment with the IFA and he also volunteers with several local sports clubs and schools.  His enthusiasm and commitment to enriching the lives of local children through sport was recognised at the College’s Student Achievement Awards when he was the recipient of the Community Ambassador Award. 


Working towards achieving his coaching qualifications, ignited a passion in Ryan for coaching and he now uses his expertise to volunteer several times a week in a range of coaching environments to help develop new football skills among boys and girls aged between 6 and 12 years.

Ryan explained that the coaching qualifications are designed to give aspiring young coaches a strong foundation and prepare them for a real-world challenges of working as a football coach:


“The course in general and coaching qualifications in particular have created many opportunities for me, including part-time coaching positions in schools, small-sided games, and even paid work and practical experience at IFA sports camps during the Easter and summer holidays.


“I developed variety of skills during the course, ranging from communication and teamwork to adapting coaching sessions and even leading full sessions on my own, experience which helped pave the way for paid employment in the industry. This hands-on experience is incredibly beneficial for confidence building and puts down a strong foundation for anyone interested in coaching.”

Ryan said he decided to study at Northern Regional College because it offered opportunities in the field he wanted to pursue for a career:

“If I had gone back to school, I would have to do subjects I had no interest in, but the BTEC Extended Diploma focused on sports and sport coaching and aligned perfectly with my career goals and personal interests.”


He continued that while his previous school offered a broad curriculum which would have given him a solid academic foundation, he felt it lacked the specialised focus needed to thrive in the sports industry.


“The BTEC Diploma in Sports Coaching and Development on the other hand is tailored specifically for people interested in sports and sports coaching and it allowed me to dive deep into the subject matter I am passionately interested in.


“As well as developing technical sports skills, the course emphasises the importance of communication, teamwork, and coaching skills, which are crucial for a successful career in sports as well as personal development.

“The course content is designed to help you work with individuals of all abilities, ensuring that you’re able to learn how to adapt coaching methods to suit different needs and levels. This experience is invaluable, as it prepares you for real-world scenarios where flexibility and adaptability are essential. Theoretical knowledge alone does not give the same insight as practical experience.”


Ryan added:

“Engaging with peers and mentors who share my passion for sports was ‘incredibly motivating’ and helped enhance my learning experience at the College.


“The focus on sports and sports coaching, combined with the development of essential soft skills, makes this course an excellent choice for anyone like me who is passionate about sports. It goes way beyond traditional academic learning, providing a holistic approach to education that prepares students for a successful career in the sports industry.”

Now that he has completed the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sports Coaching and Development, Ryan’s short-term goal is to continue his education at university and do degree in either Sports Science or Development. In the longer term, he intends to continue working in the sports industry:

“Five years from now, I see myself as being well qualified with lots of experience and able to secure employment as a coach or sports co-ordinator and, even further down the line, I would like to run my own business.”


Applications are open for all courses starting in September.  Visit our website for more information.


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