Alex Paske – Interview

Alex Paske is a coach from the UK who founded Mintridge Events in 2014 aged only 24. She is passionate about giving all young people equal sporting opportunities and has a wealth of knowledge across the school sector in England.

Mintridge Events was established with the objective to increase sports participation, enhance life skills and create a greater wealth of knowledge of health and wellbeing?amongst young people. Alongside the delivery of a very important support network for students ensuring a balanced lifestyle and enjoyment through the continued hard work of our loyal Ambassadors and their unique mentoring schemes.

Alex recently won the “Women of the Future” Award, aimed at successful young British Women. The award aims to unlock kindness and collaboration amoung leaders and recognises and celebrates the achievements of the UK’s pipeline of female talent.

The FCN caught up with Alex to find out how the awards impacted her organisation and how important it is for female role models in sport to visit local schools and inspire the next generation…



I started Mintridge Events 3 years ago in March 2015 and have always been passionate about working with young people. ?All my previous experiences led me through coaching qualifications, working in various schools in different countries largely focusing on hockey, netball and tennis.
In my last role before I started Mintridge, I was working for a sports travel company. Through this job I was able to work at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, so I was part of the Club House Team for Team England. I looked after the area were the athletes would come to meet their families away from the village and the media to be able to have a normal time with their family! It was an amazing experience for me because I got to see the athletes in a completely different and unique environment. I was able to spend some quality time with them all and got to know some of them. And it was there were I met Marilyn Okoro (GB 800M runner). She had so much time for me and wanted to know about what I was doing. ?I just remember thinking how amazing it was that she was asking about me and thought if thats how athletes can be, maybe there is a way I can link this experience I’ve had with my passion of working with children. And this is were the idea was born, I wanted to bridge the gap between elite sports and grassroots. As the organisation has grown, so have I as it has been a real personal journey for me as well.
My experience through sport was that I was a hockey player and that was my identity, my dream was to play for GB and play at the Olympics. I reached the U16 trials for England but didn’t make it, which I didn’t deal with particularly well. I fell out of love with hockey, I suffered from depression and mental health issues because I didn’t really know how to cope with failure and not getting in to the team. My family were incredibly supportive, but they weren’t really sure of what to do and how to help me with the next steps for my set-back. ?As part of Mintridge now, I added on a sport network for up and coming talent as a result of my own experience. The young athletes are given a mentor who has been there and experienced this, and can help them overcome their own set-backs.
It’s been interesting to see how many ambassadors that are part of the programme who didn’t make their U16s team either, if I’d have known this and had this type of mentoring, I would still be playing hockey now.
It was very talent focussed to start with, but it has become so much more as schools and other organisations are using it for various things such as supporting their staff or students to develop confidence, or behaviour etc. It shows the diversity of sport and how powerful it is with there being a need for this kind of thing.
It’s huge! Getting female ambassadors in is important for both boys and girls. I always think back to social media, because so many people on social media at the moment are the wrong kind of role models, and that’s what the young people are seeing. So having someone like Marilyn going in and sharing their own values with the students is so well received. A lot of students think that Olympians, Paralympians, England Netballers for example, are rock stars and their achievements are unachievable for them. So when the athletes are stood infant of them in the classroom, or on a Skype call with them at home, it makes them realise that these athletes are just like them – and people like Marilyn have gone through the same processes. ?It make everything seem so much more achievable. The way the ambassadors relay and communicate with the young people is so important, we pick the ambssadors because they are the ones that want to give back.
There is then the secondary impact when the students then see these athletes on the TV.

Some of our packages include fortnightly one-to-one Skype calls with the ambassadors for 6 months to continue the legacy of the athlete appearance. In this, the ambassador gives more of their time, more personal advice, and its a real wow factor for the students because they have an athlete giving up their time during their own seasons and competitions etc. This other helps towards the students own confidence and self-esteem.

I have a very supportive family. My Dad has invested in it and believed in it; and he is a shrewd businessman so he isn’t the kind of person that would help anything! I am very fortunate I have someone close to me that has enabled me to go for it and give the idea a go.
In the early stages I still had my fall back of coaching and all the experiences and qualifications I have with that. I am the kind of person that gives 100% to everything and won’t give up. I believed and believe in it so much that I just didn’t stop.
I am currently in the transition of turning this organisation into a charity, because I want it to work so much but the funding has been an issues, particularly with our school programmes. Being a charity will be the way I can keep it going and make it more viable and impactful in schools.
I have been looking at my own confidence since I won’t the ‘Woman of the Future’ award. Looking back at the U16 trials I took in hockey, I know now that back then I didn’t think I should have been there and I think that reflected in how I played at the trials. Fast forward to the interview I did for the Award and I felt really confident because I believed in Mintridge so much – which makes such a difference.

At the actual award ceremony there was 5 in our category and the other 4 were all professional athletes, so it felt just amazing to be in their company. The awards are based on kindness and collaboration so I just felt overwhelmed just to be a part of it. Saying that I am very competitive so I knew I wanted to win! ?They had warned me that if you win I would need to say a few words, so I had something prepared in my head as to what I wanted to say if I did win. But when my name was announced as the winner along with Sarah Leiter (a Goalball player), everything I wanted to say didn’t come out! What I wanted to say was that this was the England Cap I never achieved, so it has made it all worth it.

We have a lot more media attention and it has given us more backing going into meetings, particularly as I am now transitioning into a charity and need to look for sponsorship. There are a lot more athletes coming forward wanting to get involved now as well and have now even become an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society which os given to people who are helping to promote the Commonwealth values.

One of the stories is working with Heather Fell (an Olympic Silver medallist, Modern Pentathlon) who mentored a 17 year old who was also a Pentathlete. A month after her 6 month stint, the 17 year old was selected for GB to run in the World Championships and she put this down to her mentoring and all that she learned with Heather. ?This is really amazing and exactly why I set up Mintridge Events.
Another story was delivering a Wheelchair Basketball program in a school with Jarrett Brian. He worked with two sisters who had been paralysed in a car accident and we went in 2 years after this. They already had one-on-one support for they PE lessons but they weren’t very engaged in their lessons because they had a lot of insecurities when the rest of the class was playing football, hockey etc. When we went in to do Wheelchair basketball, for the first time in two years, the girls were on a level playing field and were laughing and joking. The teacher said it was the first time they had ever seen the sisters smile in sport.
One thing that I am really glad that I did which I would advise all girls to do is to play lots of different sports and enjoy lots of different activities and remember exactly why you are taking part. Towards the end of my hockey I was playing because I had to not because I wanted to, so I think its so important to play because you enjoy it.
There are going to be challenges and failures so its about find your own way of coping that failure.

Where to start! If you are passionate about something and truly believe in it, it will work. I have had so many set backs in the last 3 years, there have been so many reasons why I could have ended it all, but if you deal with challenges using your support network around you, you can get through it. Surround yourself with the people that believe in you and are willing to help.