Soccer-mad student Michael Lowe has been combining his passion for the sport with a desire to help others change their lives through sport,
Now, the 19 year old from Chorley has been rewarded for his effort with a prestigious Excellence Scholarship from his university bosses.
Michael is a sports development student at Edge Hill University and has been volunteering in his local community for years.
He started volunteering for Chorley Council’s StreetGames initiative, Doorstep Sports, in 2013. The project is designed to make sport more widely available to disadvantaged young people, gaining valuable skills and developing an interest in the benefits of community sport along the way.
He said: “I wanted to get involved in StreetGames because activities like this have played a big part in my life since I was four years old.
“I attended ‘Get Up and Go’ sessions, run by Chorley Council, and they gave me my first taste of sport. As I got older I wanted to encourage others to get involved in sport as I understand the benefits first hand.”
Besides helping Chorley Council provide fun days in schools, running mini football tournaments, organising outdoor adventure activities and football coaching, Michael also supports Doorstep Sport sessions, delivering exciting and informal sports sessions in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and other places where young people get together.
He added: “I really enjoy getting to know the kids and building up a professional but fun relationship with them.
“Often the older ones are less motivated to come and you might see them once a month, but then they get more into it and you start seeing them every week. I love that.”
Since starting his degree, Michael has taken advantage of the Edge Hill’s partnership with Everton FC and now volunteers for the football club’s outreach arm, Everton in the Community. He is a volunteer coach for the club’s Tackling the Blues project, which promotes physical, mental and emotional wellbeing through sport. He is also involved in fund raising for sick children.
He volunteers two afternoons a week and in the school holidays for Everton in the Community and usually runs Doorstep Sport sessions on Friday nights, saying : “That’s the most important night for keeping kids out of trouble.”
“As well as being rewarding and fun, I’ve also been able to use my volunteering in my studies at Edge Hill. In a recent assignment I was able to draw on my experience with StreetGames to discuss current policies around community and grassroots sport. It’s sometimes hard fitting everything in but, thankfully, my volunteering is supporting my studies and vice versa.”
Alongside his scholarship from Edge Hill, Michael’s dedication and hard work has previously been recognised with a Sporting Excellence Award from Runshaw College and the Chorley Borough Young Volunteer of the Year. He represented Chorley at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, worked at several of the Northern England StreetGames Festivals in Manchester and was even interviewed on BBC Radio Lancashire.
Michael plans to use his scholarship money to fund a trip to Toronto to work as a volunteer football coach in the summer of 2016.
He said: “It’s nice when someone notices what you do. It gives you extra confidence. I’m a bit shy about telling people about my volunteer work so it meant a lot to me that Edge Hill wanted to reward me for doing what I love. I don’t have to shout a about it because someone else has.”