It was after getting a kick out of coaching and managing under 16 and under 19 rugby teams which inspired this Bassetlaw man to turn to fostering.
And now, John Watson, 65, is willing to tell his story to encourage more volunteers to come forward and make caring for children aged 11 and over, a viable, stay-at-home career choice.
The retired Ranby prison officer, has been a foster carer at Nottinghamshire County Council for seven years and he has looked after eight boys aged between ten and seven.
“Coaching teens at rugby got me thinking about fostering older children,” John said.
“I seemed to have a natural ability to connect with teenagers and got real satisfaction seeing children develop their sporting skills and gain in confidence.”
“When I worked at Ranby, I also witnessed first-hand what life could have been like for some of the prisoners if they had been lucky enough to have had more of a guiding hand when they were younger.”
John currently cares for three lads, including one 20-year-old who has been with him for three years and is almost like a ‘son’ to him as they both share passion for motorbikes.
The County Council are extending their current fee paid scheme for fostering children aged 14 and upwards to 11 and above because of the increasing demand for foster carers in this age range.
Kate Foale, who leads on children’s social care at the County Council, said: “We’re looking to recruit a further ten foster carers to this new scheme over the next year.”
“We are looking for people who can provide loving and supportive homes to older children, particularly in the north of Nottinghamshire where there are more children in care and where we have more difficulty placing them internally.”
“You may be looking for a career change or be an empty nester who feels you’ve got what it takes to help transform the life of a vulnerable young person.”
John acknowledged that although fostering might not be suitable for everyone, he has urged people to consider fostering this age group as it can be very rewarding.
He added: “Older children deserve a positive future and loving home just as much as younger children.”
Carers will need to be home-based and be able to provide the young person with a bedroom of their own and have transport.
To find out more about the 11+ scheme, call the council’s recruitment team on 0845 301 8899 or visit www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/adoptionandfostering.