Many fans will remember Bradley Pritchard for his tireless performances in a Charlton shirt.
Since his departure from The Valley, Pritchard has continued his football career, has worked for a law firm and now, using the skills he has learned through sport, he is helping young people and children to learn.
Pritchard runs an organisation called ‘The Sporting Way’ and twice a week he runs 90-minute sessions with the Addicks’ U23s and U18s to aid their personal development on and off the pitch.
“I enjoy working with young people and I just thought that, with my experiences, this was something I could look at developing and could turn into a career,” Pritchard told Valley Pass.
“I go into schools and young offenders’ institutes and alternative provision units and use sport to engage with a lot of the children who find mainstream education a bit more challenging.
“We use the principles of sport, it’s not just about going out and playing, but use the principles to talk about things like prejudices, stereotypes and identity. All of these are the sort of skills that I think young children these days are finding difficult.”
Joe Francis, Charlton’s Head of Academy Education and Welfare, runs the sessions alongside Pritchard. The duo, along with the organisation ‘Strengthening Minds’ and League Football Education (LFE) have put together a two-year programme, which is being piloted by the Addicks.
When asked about returning to Charlton, Pritchard admitted he is delighted to be back at his former club.
He said: “Walking through the corridors, a lot has changed but you still get that sense of enjoyment, the same buzz that players and ex-pros always talk about. Charlton is definitely something I hold very close to my heart.”
Pritchard’s connections to Charlton help to keep the academy players engaged and he is more than happy with how the U18s and U23s work during his sessions.
“For a start, they’re all taller than me, so I can’t exactly be a disciplinarian!” he joked. “But they’re all down to earth and they are very engaging, which makes my job a lot easier.
“It also means that I can focus and become more in depth with the kind of things that we talk about.”
He added: “Charlton is unique and it’s a club I’m very proud to be associated with because they’re a frontrunner for other clubs. Even before all of this, you only need to look at the reputation that Charlton have with their academy and how progressive they have been compared to other clubs. What we’re doing now is another sign of this academy progressing.”
Francis is clearly pleased with what Pritchard is bringing to the academy and was quick to praise him when speaking to Valley Pass.
He said: “It’s been a vision of mine, to offer some sort of personal development programme for the young players of the club. We feel as though, as part of their working week, we can build in some sort of personal growth workshops.
“We feel this could benefit their performance both in training and in their day-to-day lives. Bradley has got fantastic style and delivery and he’s done a fantastic job. The boys have a lot of respect for him because of his playing career and because it was here!
“His own journey is not a conventional one and storytelling is a very powerful way of inspiring young people and Bradley’s got a great story to tell.”
Article by Brandon Smith