James Keep

Newcastle United Foundation coach James Keep was a special guest at St. James's Palace this week to mark the 15th anniversary of The Prince's Trust Football Initiative.

On Monday, James was invited along with Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore and Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor to an event with HRH The Prince of Wales, to celebrate 15 years of his charity's work with football.

The Foundation coach is one of 20,000 young people helped through football since 1997. After becoming unemployed, James - now aged 26 - was struggling to find work or anything he could use to move into a career. He was looking towards volunteering in football coaching but was finding opportunities hard to come by.

He then heard about The Prince's Trust and was successful in getting a place on the Get into Football Coaching course in 2009 run by Newcastle United Foundation.

James dedicated himself to the programme and, following the course, started volunteering for the Foundation. He was then offered a job, first as a sessional coach and last year he took up a post of Family Learning Tutor.

"Football has always been a big passion of my mine but I never thought I would be able to turn it into a career," said James.

"Taking part in The Trust's Get into Football course really changed my life and I can't thank them enough for their help.

"Meeting the other young people at St. James' Palace who have been helped shows how The Trust's Football Initiative works. It was a huge honour to meet Prince Charles and was fantastic to meet some of my football heroes from the Premier League."

Scudamore added: "The Premier League, as a founding partner of the Prince's Trust Football initiative, takes a great deal of satisfaction that over the last 15 years, the lives of thousands have been transformed through the power of football.

"The Prince's Trust is central to the community work of all 20 Premier League clubs and we want to continue that good work, which is why in 2010 we announced another three years of funding for the partnership."