Kick It Out’s national Raise Your Game (RYG) conference, supported by the Premier League, heads to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on Monday 16 April, for the eighth edition of the mentoring conference.

The event will offer mentoring opportunities to attendees who wish to forge a career in football, with the chance to meet industry professionals with knowledge and experience of working in the sport.

Craig Fagan (left), former player turned coach and broadcaster, is a mentor at #RYG18, returning for his second conference. We spoke to Craig ahead of the event, to discuss his transition from playing and advice he would pass on to those making their way into the sports industry.

Since hanging up his boots in 2015, Craig has found that skill on the pitch doesn’t automatically lead to work opportunities, and has found the route into coaching a challenge.

“The coaching opportunities and interviews I’ve been through - all they would say is ‘you’ve not got enough experience, you’ve not got the badge.’ Well I’ve got the badges now, and I’m getting the experience, so they stop having the excuses!”

Craig is working now as a coach for the Southend Under-16s as well as a college team in North London, while also providing his thoughts as a radio broadcaster covering Hull City’s away games for Viking FM. The transition from playing hasn’t been easy, but Craig is determined to use what he has learnt to help others going through similar experiences.

“You can try your hardest, but to know it’s actually finished and you’re not going to play again is a tough one to take, but I’m getting there. I didn’t feel there were enough people there when I was finishing to help me. I felt like I was on my own, that not enough people understand.

“When I was speaking to people last year, I was enjoying helping them, giving them bits of information, on things that I’ve learnt myself, or things I learnt from (ex-teammates) Michael Johnson and Darren Moore, and Troy Townsend, and passing it on to other people.

“I enjoy helping people, and letting them get their foot up on the ladder, letting them not feel alone. It definitely helps, it helped me, and I’d like to help others!”

Returning as a mentor for the second year running, Craig found last year’s event beneficial in more ways than one.

“I went there to help people, and I got good information from some of the mentors myself! It worked out both ways – you’re never too old to learn - that’s one thing that I definitely picked up playing and coaching wise.

“The advice I gave to people last year is to keep asking people the questions. Can you go in and watch coaching sessions at football clubs, can you go in for a week? Be proactive, send emails, don’t bug people, but be on their case to try and let you into their circle!”