COLIN BLAND, Chief Executive Officer
Colin has over two decades of experience of managing and leading in charities delivering mental health and emotional wellbeing services. For much of this time he has led services specialising in addiction and working with clients and systems with particularly complex needs. He joined Sporting Chance in 2012 and put in place systems and structures that we believe are key to achieving our vision: "When any sportsman or woman has the courage to reach out for help, there needs to be a professional and safe place for them to go. Sporting Chance can be that place."
His sporting C.V is slightly pathetic, although it does include a spell in Cornish rugby. He considers his lack of familiarity with the 'Who's Who' of the sporting world an unusual strength in his role.
Colin is answerable to the board of trustees and is charged with developing the reach and quality of our service in line with our stakeholders' expectations.
JAMES WEST, Clinical Director
James West has been our Clinical Director since Sporting Chance first opened for residential treatment in the spring of 2003, overseeing the clinic's move to its current home in Forest Mere and the expansion of the range of services it can offer.
James is an experienced psychotherapist, who trained at Regent's College School of Psychotherapy and at the Westminster Pastoral Foundation and became Co-ordinator of the Highbury Counselling Service and Project Manager of a probation and bail hostel, where he worked with offenders and ex-offenders. It was through working with Tony Adams, and helping him overcome his drink problems that James came to be involved with Sporting Chance; he now has a private practice in London where he provides counselling and aftercare for Sporting Chance clients.
James' early life was badly affected by his own addiction to drugs and alcohol. In 1979 he received a six-year prison sentence for drug-related offences. On his release he sought help for his problems and has been in recovery since 1985. James' own experiences gave him the passion and enthusiasm to help others and, utilising the skills he has developed through his extensive training, he sees his work with Sporting Chance as a rewarding opportunity to help others to turn their lives around.
SHELLIE HEATHER, Head of Operations
Shellie joined the charity in 2011 following a successful career in teaching and school leadership. Her experience of mainstream and sports education spanned over fifteen at her time of joining Sporting Chance. Her organisational ability was key in the re-structuring of the charity's services and the creation of the national network of counsellors and therapists. Shellie oversees all the charity's service departments ensuring governance, administrative and financial systems are robust and fit for purpose. Her understanding of sports administration and the financial structures that support it enables our services to be delivered to those in need with efficiency and the minimum of red tape.
Shellie has a thorough understanding of Sporting Chance combined with an ability to communicate how our services fit in the world of professional sport and ultimately help the player in need. Shellie trained as a dancer in her younger life and therefore has first-hand experience of the discipline, routine and commitment required in the world of the physical athlete.
ANDREW JORDAN, Senior Therapist (Residential Treatment)
Andrew would have made significantly more than 21 appearances in the English Football League had his career not been so severely affected by injury; an astute and uncomplicated defender, he was selected to represent Scotland at Under-21 level in 1999 and was tipped by many to gain full international honours for his country. Andrew began his career as a trainee at Bristol City where he made eleven league appearances, before joining Cardiff City for a fee of £30,000 in October 2000. However, after only five first team appearances he was struck by an injury which severely restricted his playing time in South Wales and he remained sidelined for almost two years, eventually released by the club in 2003 before signing for third tier Hartlepool United. Despite a promising start, Andrew suffered further injury problems after only a handful of games and called time on an all too short professional career in 2005 at the age of 26.
Following retirement from football, Andrew completed a Counselling diploma from the University of the West of England and worked with vulnerable adults on a mental health ward in Bristol for four years. Previously our Head of Education and Training, in March 2016 Andrew became a Senior Therapist in residential treatment and works alongside James West in delivering our 26-day programme addressing addictive disorders.
JEFF WHITLEY, Head of Education
Jeff is a Zambian-born professional footballer who played 20 times for Northern Ireland and twice won promotion to the English Premiership with Manchester City in 2000 and Sunderland in 2005. Jeff was a product of the Manchester City youth scheme which he joined as a ten-year-old and he began his club career as a trainee in 1996, making over 120 league and cup appearances for the first-team in over seven years at Maine Road which also included brief loan spells at Wrexham and Notts County. Released from City in 2003 under then manager Kevin Keegan, Jeff enjoyed a successful two-year spell with Sunderland, making over 70 league and cup appearances for the Black Cats which saw the club reach the Championship play-offs at the end of the 2003-04 season and then secure the title outright a year later. He signed for Cardiff City for the start of the following season and made 38 appearances for the Welsh side in a three-year spell, a time in which he admitted his alcohol and drug use had become a serious problem.
Jeff addressed his issues using the services of Sporting Chance in 2005 and now leads our Education Department. In addition to his life experiences and the time he has spent as a top level footballer, Jeff is also a qualified counsellor.
ALEX MILLS, Administration & Events
After completing a degree in English Literature at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Alex worked in industry on management teams responsible for large scale recruitment and procurement processes. From 2012 he redirected his skills and focus to support educational providers in the UK to build capacity, including the recruitment of key personnel and effective leaders. He has a thorough knowledge of complex and multi-layered systems and the ability to administer them and this has proved key in the development of Sporting Chance's departments.
Alex's interest in sport and often encyclopaedic knowledge was nurtured by his father who was a leading UK sports journalist. The combination of his work experience, obvious ability and personal passion for sport has proved to be an excellent fit for Sporting Chance.
Alex joined the charity in 2016 and is responsible for supporting the administration and education function of the charity alongside managing specific areas of work for key stakeholders. He has been pivotal in establishing the charity's service providing support for adult survivors of sexual abuse in sport.