Lord Sugar might have started his annual search for an Apprentice last week – but at Widnes Vikings, we’ve already found ours.
James Owen, aged 16 from Farnworth, has been with the club since the start of August on a two-year apprenticeship in partnership with Riverside College.
He previously did work experience at the Select Security Stadium in June 2014, shadowing Vikings commercial manager Dave Rolt.
The former Wade Deacon High School pupil works with the club’s community staff and coaches, helping to deliver rugby coaching and multi-sports sessions in schools, reaching out to the community in sessions at Upton and Victoria Park as well as helping out with the Touch Rugby and Walking Rugby on Friday nights.
A player with West Bank Bears Under 16s, Owen aspires to be a community or even a professional rugby league coach in the future.
He said: “I like playing, but I’m not good enough! So coaching is the next best thing.
“I like going in to the schools and seeing people improve each week and helping them to have fun and a bit of a laugh rather than being stuck in lessons.
“The Vikings staff have really helped me settle, they’ve welcomed me in to the club and I feel like I’ve been here for ages to be honest.”
Rugby mad James has been a Widnes season ticket holder since the age of four, and even helps out coaching his younger brother Edward’s team, Moorfield Under 8s.
So he was already familiar with some of the faces within the club, in particular Tim Holmes and Kurtis Marsh, who both delivered sessions to James when he was at school.
“It’s unreal to be now working for the club. It feels weird. You get to see what goes on behind the scenes, it’s almost like an exclusive look at how the club works.
“I was going to take up the Warrington Wolves rugby league course at Warrington Collegiate but then Dave Rolt got in touch and I didn’t hesitate to come to Widnes.”
When the season comes round, James will be helping out on a match day with the player mascots, player escorts and the club of the week visits.
Although he’s rugby mad, James also enjoys watching football and golf. A Liverpool fan, he has helped to get the stadium ready by switching advertising boards ahead of games played at the Select Security Stadium by their Ladies team.