Islington's Capalbo up for UK Coaching Hero award

Lucas Capalbo passes on advice to a youngster

Lucas Capalbo passes on advice to a youngster - Credit: Run Communications

A football coach from Islington has been shortlisted as a national ‘coaching hero’, after creating his own online lessons through lockdown to empower young athletes to better deal with psychological issues on and off the pitch.

From nearly 500 public nominations, Lucas Capalbo is one of 75 coaches across the nation to have been shortlisted for the UK Coaching Hero Awards.

The initiative recognises and celebrates the innovations and achievements of coaches who inspired the nation to keep moving during the coronavirus lockdowns.

Creating his own cartoon character ‘Bear’ to help connect better with younger children, Capalbo used his sessions at Bloomsbury Football to teach youngsters across Camden, Westminster, and Islington about coping mechanisms in a positive environment, and how to resolve their mental limitations about exercising such as anxiety or fear.

With a slightly unconventional focus on mental health as opposed to strictly technical proficiency, Capalbo’s work proved extremely popular with kids and parents alike. This prompted him to go even further and implement a tailored group providing access for local girls to mental health support from female coaches, which will continue post-lockdown.

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Capalbo said: “It's a great feeling to be nominated and shortlisted for the UK Coaching Heroes Award. I'm glad to represent my club, Bloomsbury Football, and our young athletes in such a prestigious event.

"Being shortlisted for this award shows that our efforts to help children and young people in London through sport is going in the right direction. Furthermore, it motivates us to keep working to ensure that every child has an opportunity to be positively impacted by power of football.”

Lucas Capalbo has been nominated for a UK Coaching Hero award

Lucas Capalbo has been nominated for a UK Coaching Hero award - Credit: Run Communications

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Rising to the challenge of a pandemic has been Capalbo’s greatest achievement, dealing with not only reduced contact, but the subsequent mental health difficulties that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Of the complications this has brought to his coaching, Capalbo added: “The pandemic has been tough on everyone, both on our young athletes and coaches. It was no different for me. Not being able to be on the pitch doing what I love made me realise how much my happiness is associated with the beautiful game.

"For those long lockdown months, it felt like life had no colours. I'm extremely grateful for family, friends, and colleagues at Bloomsbury Football for the support they gave me during these tough times.

“Having the opportunity to engage with other coaches and deliver sessions (albeit online) made each day special and gave me strength to overcome my own personal challenges and ensure that I could give my best to our young players.

"We wanted to make sure that our young players remained physically active and engaged with our community, which is why I then proposed to deliver sessions on psychological tools through football to help players learn how to cope with mental challenges on and off the pitch.”

Reflecting on the exceptional contribution of coaches like Lucas, UK Coaching Director of Coaching Emma Atkins, said: "Many congratulations to all our finalists and to the hundreds of other coaches who were nominated. Each of your stories were incredibly inspiring and showed how invaluable you are to your communities.

“The work of great coaches, changes lives. And that is what you’ve done over the past 12 difficult months. You have brought people together through sport and physical activity sessions, whether online or one-to-one, and provided connections and support.”

The vote features as part of UK Coaching Week, which will take place from the 7-13 June, empowering athletes, coaches, organisations, and the public to celebrate great coaching and encouraging coaches to adapt and recover their space within the sport and physical activity sector.

To vote for your UK Coaching Hero and to find out more about the campaign, visit

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