Sporting success stories from Barnsley were celebrated at a regional awards event held in the town.
Jonathan Austin, 24, of Dodworth Road, Barnsley, was named ‘Participant of the Year’ at the South Yorkshire Sportivate Awards 2013 hosted by Barnsley Football Club.
Jonathan, who didn’t actively participate in a particular sport before signing up to Sportivate, went on to attend every session and earn the Day Certificate in Sports Leadership qualification.
He now plays football every week and has started coaching Barnsley Football Club’s activities on a voluntary basis to develop his coaching knowledge and skills.
Jonathan said: “I was keen to work in sport and spotted the opportunity to get involved with Sportivate at the Job Centre. The first session was in judo and I’ve also taken part in football and rugby, which was great fun. After that I was able to move into volunteer coaching at Oakwell.
“I’m doing my FA level one coaching badge at the moment and then I’m hoping to get a coaching job. I’ve learnt teamwork and developed my personal and professional skills and the future’s bright thanks to Sportivate and Sport England.”
The Project of the Year prize was presented to the Barnsley FC Job Centre Plus Project, which has actively engaged almost 20 hard to reach young people who lacked confidence and self-esteem.
Through a partnership with Job Centre Plus, the 18 to 24 year olds completed sports leadership training to improve their life skills and employability chances.
James Mahoney, Sports Participation Officer at Barnsley FC's Community Sports & Education Trust, which delivered the project said: “It feels great to have been recognised and rewarded for all the hard work we have put into the delivering the scheme.
“The overall aim was to get more young people involved in sport and, using sport leadership skills, improve their employability chances. We are delighted that around 50 per cent of the young people have gone on to secure jobs.”
Sportivate, which is operated locally by South Yorkshire Sport, was launched in June 2011 to increase opportunities for people aged 14-25 to regularly participate in sport through weekly sport sessions.
Kathryn Mudge, development manager at South Yorkshire Sport, said: “It was a fantastic day and great to be able to celebrate the achievements of Jonathan and the Barnsley FC Job Centre Plus Project who were picked out as the best projects and participants in Yorkshire and Humberside.
“Sportivate has been a huge success in South Yorkshire. We’ve retained 6,000 participants which is 150 per cent more than the target set for our county and, in total, 6,500 people have been engaged over the last two years.”
To celebrate its success in South Yorkshire, the awards event also featured a judo activity session for participants involved in the Sportivate project before participants had the opportunity to lead a sports and activity session for a group of local children.
From September 2013, Sportivate will be extended to include people aged 11-25 years-old. To get involved, go to http://sysportivate.co.uk.