Aspiring athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds often suffer to develop their talents due to a lack of resources and guidance. A couple from Wanstead are working to change that. Troy Da Costa reports
Wanstead couple Dan Sharp and Arela Williams – who run Sharp Training out of Target Fit on the High Street – are dedicating their free time and knowledge to bringing quality training and mindfulness to young, underprivileged athletes. Both highly qualified and experienced personal trainers, Arela and Dan have made it their goal to help young adults fulfil their potential.
Sharp Training currently offers one-to-one sessions and online mentorship, and are looking to expand their work in the community through a sponsorship programme. For a small, non-obligatory subscription, potential sponsors can help hopeful youths stay focused on their goals while receiving a first-class physical education otherwise beyond their means.
Arela is a former elite volleyball player and specialist in flexibility, and Dan has a background in semi-professional basketball and is a strength and conditioning coach. Together, the couple has 16 years of health and fitness expertise to share.
The sponsorship programme has been up and running since June this year and is already quite popular. “Athletes who wouldn’t ordinarily have the chance to train with us now have an opportunity to be part of the mentorship programme. They receive a sport performance direction and join in weekly leadership meetings on Zoom,” says Arela, herself just 25 years old. “Sponsors receive updates and letters from the athletes they sponsor.”
“I aspire to inspire, and I do that by teaching and equipping my trainees with tools to make them more powerful humans first and then athletes,” says Dan. “They inspire me when they excel.”
According to Arela, the best part of her job is inspiring young female athletes to be confident within their body and to not alter their personality because they find themselves in a male-dominant environment. “Their success definitely inspires me on days when I’m not feeling confident within myself.”
Seeing their young athletes put into practice the lessons taught on how to overcome mistakes and have a ‘next play mentality’ is one of their great successes. “Watching a player recover from a miss caused by overthinking the situation, only to score the winning shot minutes later is great,” adds Dan, talking about a youth basketball player.
The ultimate goals of Sharp mentorship are to build a support platform for youth athletes, connect them with pros from varying backgrounds to learn from, and to teach them how to prioritise their physical and mental well-being.