Hi I’m Ashley Davis and this is my story…
In August 2014 I moved to Rotherham to be with my girlfriend as my family had disowned me. When I was down south I had no one and felt like I was in a really dark place in my life. I hit severe depression, I started smoking cigarettes to try relieve the stress and my career in football went down hill so I pretty much lost everything.
I moved to Rotherham to be near my girlfriend so that I could hopefully sort my head and life out. I moved into a supported housing place called Rush House. It had its bad bits such as the people and staff that I didn’t really get along with but the good parts helped me massively. I had access to group sessions nearly every day of the week which helped me with meeting new people that have been in my situation. It helped me to deal with certain things which helped me to move on from some of the horrible things that happened to me in my life.
One of the best moments in my life happened at Rush House, I got told there was a football session going off at Rotherham Indoor Centre in Eastwood with Rotherham United Community Sports Trust. My coach was the brilliant Trudi Race who deserves so much credit for the amount of help she gives people and I’m thankful I was one of them. I went to RFC and played with a group of people that have mental health issues like I have and we just played five a side games which felt brilliant. I just felt amazing, like I woke up from a deep sleep and a really bad nightmare, I felt like I was on top of the world. I went every week to play football started to build my confidence back up again and I started believing in myself again. I also remember when Trudi`s dad came to a football session and played with us, we got absolutely humiliated by him he was brilliant and he was like 50! Imagine if he was younger, I would have just walked home. Well anyway Wilf (Trudi`s dad) is Chairman of Maltby Main Football Club and him and Trudi were talking about volunteering opportunities at Maltby, I was interested but I think I forgot about it after a game of football.
A couple of months later Trudi asked me and another participant called Phil if we could help out at Maltby and we said yes. We received a volunteer shirt and also got a timesheet to write down our hours and that was it really, it was the start of the season and what a season of football it was! I enjoyed every minute and can see myself there for a long time. My duties included selling raffle tickets and helping out with kit and equipment.
Anyway through helping out at Maltby week in week out and because of the relationship I had built with Trudi and the staff at RUCST, I got a call from Talent Match who offered me a 6 month funded placement working for RUCST. I jumped at the chance, the coaches and staff are absolutely brilliant and I couldn’t ask for a better job. My contract got extended by an extra 2 months and in those 8 months I put my head down and worked as hard as I could to make sure that I impressed the staff so they would consider keeping me on when my contract finished. My contract has just finished and it turns out I got offered an apprenticeship at Rotherham united community sports trust! I can honestly say that I have accomplished something that I never thought was possible because of the situation I was in. I owe a massive amount of gratitude to Rush House for the opportunities they gave me and also Talent Match who funded my placement. A massive thanks to my girlfriend for being there in all my tough situations and also motivating me in all the things I participated in. A massive thankyou to Trudi Race who brought me back my football which I love so much. Wilf Race for giving the opportunity to volunteer at Maltby Main UP THE MAIN!!!!!!! But most of all Rotherham United Community Sports Trust that have made me feel so welcome and I honestly feel so proud to be working here. Thank you, my life has definitely changed for the better.