This is not an easy path, the return of Mike ‘Boats’ Boateng, the twice convicted former Bristol Rovers defender who now lets keep England’s future talent on the track.
Mike served 16 months in prison for an attempt of match-fixing fraud in 2013, before receiving a lifetime ban from football.
Now a qualified personal trainer, his list of clients include Jadon Sancho, who stars Borussia Dortmund in Germany. He also worked with twins Ryan and Steven Sessegnon who play for Tottenham and Fulham, respectively.
“I was the scapegoat of match-fixing. It was in the public interest for me to be punished, “28 years,” he admits.
“I went to an introductory meeting in a coffee shop and I don’t have to accept anything. But things happen for a reason, and a positive is now to help others not make the same mistake as me. ”
Match-fixing is where the individuals to ensure a certain outcome in a game, and the money can then be made to bet on the outcome in advance. The fastening is prohibited by the Football Association and treated very seriously.
Mike remembers having received a call from a friend when he is released from prison, telling him to put on the new.
“He said:” Michael Boateng has been given a lifetime ban from football “. I was like, ‘Wow. What can I do? “
It has led the former Crystal Palace Academy player to stop football of his life, and a second spell behind bars, followed by a drug-trafficking charge in 2015.
Now Peckham-born Mike joined the ex-prison mate Rob on a podcast, banged up, where they chat to the prison lawyer’s Clear what life is really like to be locked up.
“This is very revealing. People are generally afraid to ask me questions about prison. I was quite hesitant to put myself out there like that, but in the end it was refreshing, ” said Mike. The podcast series dives into the world of sharing cells with violent criminals, is how to keep relationships, what to wear and the numerous methods of smuggling in illegal items.
It was in prison that Mike has earned his PT qualification and he is now able to help the likes of Sancho, who is Dortmund’s best scorer this season in the German Championship.
“The sky is the limit with Jadon,” said Mike. “He is amazing and he is a good guy. He is still angry that the boys don’t judge me [for being in prison] and that motivates me to set the good example for them. ”
And his help is not limited to the training.
“I also do close protection. If the young boys are on a night out or a holiday they are going to ask me to come, ” he chuckles. “I’m just rolling with them as a big brother, they feel comfortable around me. It is fun and I get free holidays! “
Mike said the biggest thing he has learned from his time in prison, it is to keep its positivity intact, something that has also helped to cope with the coronavirus lock.
“I was young and naive. I would have done [gone to the meeting] if I knew the consequences? Of course not, but it happened. I just have to push and help others to not go in the same direction as I did. “
What other support is there for young players?
“Almost every Premier League club has a Player dedicated Liaison Officer (PLO) now,” explains Lorna McClelland, the pioneer behind the role that she has held at Aston Villa for 14 years.
A PLO offers to the players to support the club, the teaching of languages and assistance for the purchase of a home, mentoring and talk through the problems.
“I think that there are more support systems and the education is better in the clubs too,” said Lorna, who now works as a consultant on the well-being of the players, and a counselor for sports people.
“Coercion [to be involved in illegal activities] it is quite common in football, unfortunately, and players don’t always understand the repercussions if they get caught, which they almost always do.
“I encourage any player to talk to their PLO immediately and we can help you. We’ve got to be someone, the player trusts, and we know that we will not go to the manager, or of the press; or of their parents. “
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