The HUCSF Armed Forces Sports Scheme has had its first graduates from their inaugural Academy Programme with a number of participants completing their first ever sports qualifications.
The scheme was set up in March this year, via funding from the Royal British Legion, to help improve health and fitness and reduce social isolation for ex-service personnel by getting them involved in sports as well as getting them closer to the labour market by improving their employability.
Tony Simpson and Randy Constable were two members of the group to complete the qualifications and are delighted not only with what they have achieved so far, but at the prospects of further development opportunities in the future.
“I came along initially to try and get a bit fitter”, said Tony, “but getting involved in the education side has really helped improve my confidence, as well as my knowledge, and I enjoyed it from start to finish.”
This was endorsed by Randy, who moved to the town earlier this year and has made new friends from his participation on the programme. “I was initially referred to the project by the British Legion as I didn’t really know anyone in the town and thought it would be a good way to meet new people. As a football fan, it was exciting to be around the Club and the support I’ve been given so far has been really great.”
Randy has since progressed onto the FA Level 1 Football Coaching Award and is progressing towards his goal of working with young people. “Learning more about coaching has been really good and I feel that I have taken a big step towards achieving my ambition. When I complete the Level 1, I have been offered the chance to gain some practical experience with the club’s Football in the Community programme and I can’t wait to put my new skills into practice.”
Tony is also looking to gain further qualifications and has enhanced his long term prospects by undertaking some voluntary work to gain more work experience.
“Starting the project has led to opportunities that I thought had passed me by. People around me have said that I’m too old to start qualifications or look at youth work but, having completed this course, I feel like I can prove them all wrong.
“Dean (HUCSF) has encouraged me throughout and we even did a group session around having a positive mindset and ignoring the negative voices. That hasn’t always been easy for me but I feel like more optimistic and I’m certainly out of my rut.”
As well as the practical knowledge and experience gained by the pair, they were both keen to highlight the social aspects of the scheme.
“Moving to Hartlepool was a big step for me” said Randy, “but coming along to this project has helped me make new friends and I feel like I have a whole new family. “
“We have a laugh, support each other and celebrate our successes together which is important to us all,” added Tony.
Whilst both Tony and Randy continue to get support from the staff on the project, we are now looking to recruit for our next Academy.
So, if you or a family member are ex-services personnel and would like to get involved in the Armed Forces Academy programme or in any of our ongoing activities, please contact John or Dean at the Foundation on 01429 862595 or at email@example.com.
Alternatively, you can come along to our weekly Hub session for a cup of tea and a chat every Monday between 2-4pm in the Victoria Lounge at The Super 6 Stadium.