As part of our ‘10 Years of the Community Trust’ campaign, which is celebrating the successes our official charity has achieved over the years, we are sharing stories and exclusive interviews from the heart of our local communities.
Many will know Michael Eames as Swansea City’s first-team kitman, a role which he has held since the summer of 2011.
However, it is less well known that Eames began his career in football as a coach with the Swans Community Trust.
“I started out when I was 16 and I used to run summer holiday camps with the Football in the Community project in Olchfa Comprehensive and Pentrehafod School,” Eames says.
After he had finished school, Eames started another role with the Community Trust, which saw him going into schools in the local community to take lessons.
“It was brilliant. If you like football and are able to get your point across, coaching comes easy to you,” he adds.
“It was great to be involved in football every day. It made me realise that I would like to continue working in football in the future.
“There is no doubt I would not have got my job as kitman without my role in the Community Trust.”
Eames had his first taste of working with the first team through his role with the Community Trust.
“Some of the players used to come to the football courses I ran which allowed me to get to know them and made the transition into the role as kitman a lot easier,” he explains.
In fact, it was the Swans manager at the time, Brendan Rodgers, who suggested that Eames was the ‘perfect fit’ for the kitman role.
“I got to know Brendan through the Community Trust courses and then he said to my mother (Suzan, the Swans’ football utilities co-ordinator) that I would be good in this job,” Eames adds.
He is quick to note the importance of the Community Trust within the local community and highlights the success it has achieved in the 10 years it has been a registered charity.
“The Community Trust is a great way of creating a link between the club and the community as it ensures the Swans badge is in schools across the local area,” Eames says.
“All the community events they hold also help to get local people supporting the club.
“Even now at Swans matches, I see teenagers who I coached when they were in school. They still remember the lessons that we used to teach, so it must have had a massive influence on them.”
Some of the Swans Under-23s side and the Swans Ladies team also have also been involved in the Community Trust’s sessions over the past decade.
“I used to coach Keston Davies and Aaron Lewis who now play for the under-23s, and it’s an ongoing joke that they wouldn’t be the players they are today without my coaching!” Eames says through a smile.
“Some of the Swans Ladies team have also come through the ranks of the Community Trust’s projects, so it’s a great way of giving young people the chance to be seen.
“If you’re doing well on these courses, people can see you and give you the opportunity to play for your club.”
The Community Trust has rapidly grown since its inception, with the number of staff and participants increasing throughout the years.
“It’s evident that the Community Trust has been a success over the last 10 years just by looking at the way it has grown,” Eames says.
“When I started there were three coaches, Dionne (Bevan) in the office and Linden Jones in charge, and now there are almost 30 members of staff across different offices.
“You can see just from the publicity that it’s getting bigger and bigger as it’s shown everywhere, from the matchday programmes to the big screens in the stadium.”
Look out for more success stories and exclusive interviews in the run-up to the Community Trust’s 10th Anniversary in November.