A teen boxing sensation from Caerphilly is looking forward to kickstarting a career in computing after landing a spot at university following two years balancing his education and sport as a student athlete at Coleg y Cymodd.
Samuel Coakley, 18, who has represented Wales at numerous international championships including the WKU (World Kickboxing Union) 2022 world championships where he brought home five gold medals, is set to study computer science at Plymouth University after receiving a Triple Distinction in his Computing and IT level 3 qualification at the South Wales college.
The talented sports star has achieved top results despite a challenging two years juggling his academic studies with his boxing training and competitions.
He was able to do so after being part of Coleg y Cymoedd’s Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) – a programme funded by national sport governing bodies which is designed to support young sportspeople to follow a dual career route. The only FE college in Wales to boast the accreditation, Coleg y Cymoedd provides additional help and flexibility to learners on the scheme to enable them to reach their potential in education while achieving success in their sport.
Having started kickboxing and training with his local club, WCKA Caerphilly, when he was four years old, Sam knew from a young age that he wanted to pursue the sport competitively alongside his future career. While he was initially unsure about what industry he wanted to work in, learning about graphics, programming and computer games development during his college qualification made him realise his passion for computing and he is now considering a career as a game developer.
Sam said: “I’m really looking forward to going to university and honestly don’t think it would have been possible if I hadn’t been part of the TASS scheme at college. I don’t know how I would have otherwise juggled my studies with my kickboxing, which I was determined not to give up.
“My tutors have been really supportive and understanding about my kickboxing commitments, helping me out with coursework deadlines and just making sure I was never overwhelmed or falling behind. I feel so privileged to have been able to study something I’m really interested in, while continuing to enjoy my passion at a competitive level without either of them being compromised.
“Unfortunately, there aren’t many career opportunites with kickboxing so I always knew I would need to explore another option alongside it. I’ve always loved computers and the technology industry, especially with all the fascinating developments with AI. I’m excited to continue my studies at Plymouth and see where my career in computer science ends up.”
While Sam intends to continue competing in national and international competitions while he is at university, he has no plans to join a new club after his big move to the Southwest.
He added: “I’ll have to temporarily give up kickboxing when I go to uni. It just wouldn’t feel right leaving WCKA Caerphilly – they’ve been like my family to me and it just wouldn’t be the same going somewhere else! I’ll miss it a lot, but I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring and going to Canada with the team at the end of the year for the next championships.”
Rhondda Cynon Taff
Heol y Coleg
Rhondda Cynon Taff