London Met academic named UK Coaching Hero

Dr Lucas S. Capalbo received the UK Coaching Hero Award in recognition of his work to motivate children to keep active during Covid lockdowns and to overcome anxieties around exercise.

Date: 3 March 2022

London Met's Dr Lucas S. Capalbo has been named a national coaching hero, after creating his own online lessons through lockdown to empower young athletes to better deal with psychological issues on and off the pitch.

Lucas, a Lecturer in Sport Psychology and Coaching at London Met and youth football coach at Bloomsbury Football Foundation, received the UK Coaching Hero Award, which he was awarded by HRH Princess Anne in Leeds. In addition, he won the Nationwide Building Society Mutual Respect Award, and was named London Sport's Chipotle Community Champion. He was also a finalist for the Lord Mayor of Westminster's Unsung Hero Award, from ActiveWestminster.

The UK Coaching Hero Awards recognise and celebrate the innovations and achievements of coaches who motivated the nation to keep active during the coronavirus lockdowns.

Through the creation of a cartoon character, 'Bear', Lucas was able to connect with younger children, teaching them about coping mechanisms in a positive environment and inspiring them to overcome fear and anxieties around taking part in physical exercise.

Lucas said, "The pandemic has been tough on everyone, both on our young athletes and coaches. It was no different for me. Not being able to be on the pitch doing what I love made me realise how much my happiness is associated with the beautiful game.

"For those long lockdown months, it felt like life had no colours. I'm extremely grateful for family, friends, and colleagues at Bloomsbury Football for the support they gave me during these tough times.

"Having the opportunity to engage with other coaches and deliver sessions (albeit online) made each day special and gave me strength to overcome my own personal challenges and ensure that I could give my best to our young players.

"We wanted to make sure that our young players remained physically active and engaged with our community, which is why I then proposed to deliver sessions on psychological tools through football to help players learn how to cope with mental challenges on and off the pitch."

UK Coaching Director of Coaching Emma Atkins, said: "Many congratulations to all our finalists and to the hundreds of other coaches who were nominated. Each of your stories were incredibly inspiring and showed how invaluable you are to your communities.

"The work of great coaches, changes lives. And that is what you've done over the past 12 difficult months. You have brought people together through sport and physical activity sessions, whether online or one-to-one, and provided connections and support."

Since this success, Lucas's work has been picked up by Adidas who invited him to take part in an expert panel, where he spoke about the effects of the pandemic on young footballers.