Story by Danielle Street
Some would say it is fate leading Sammy Negash down the path to become a successful football coach.
The 23-year-old former refugee has always been passionate about football but it was not until he saw an advertisement featuring his face that he took the step towards a proper coaching qualification.
"I saw a big poster saying Connect2Sport and I saw myself there," he recalls. "So I went to the website and I found out about the coaching . . . I have no idea where they got the picture but I remember the game."
It is currently focused in Mt Roskill with a view to expand to racially diverse areas such as Avondale, New Lynn, Blockhouse Bay and Lynfield.
Mr Negash started playing football when he was about five-years-old, growing up in Sudan.
"Everyone plays there in the street everyday. It's not like here, you've got grass and everything but you don't see many people playing. Over there, everywhere you go it's just people playing football."
At age nine Mr Negash moved with his mother to New Zealand for a better life and his love of the sport came with him. He became an amateur football coach.
But through the Connect2Sport programme, a partner of Auckland Football, Mr Negash was able to expand his teaching horizons.
"Once you finish doing the course at Auckland Football you get a certificate, so you can teach football anywhere."
Diversity and sport advisor for Connect2Sport Omar Mohamed says its aim is to empower communities so they have leaders working from within who have the necessary qualifications.
"We find people like Sammy who already play and teach football, and have the passion, but not the qualifications," Mr Mohamed says.
"We help them cover all the safety and management aspects of being a coach, and a better understanding of what a coach has to go through."
In return for completing the free course, the coaches are asked to give back a number of teaching hours to their community.
Mr Negash coaches at several schools but for his "repayment" he works at Mt Roskill's Christ the King Catholic School. Principal Jane Hahn says the school is proud to have him there.
"He does a wonderful job with the children and we are pleased that he's come to us with those strengths," she says.
Mr Negash enjoys being a positive role model, and his personal goal is to take coaching as high as he can. He has already coached players who have played in the world cup youth team.
"It's a great feeling for both me and the players."
Connect2Sport is a pilot programme that aims to engage ethnic communities in football and badminton.
Photo by Shane Wenzlick