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Norwich soccer coach wins award for learning

MichaelDouglasPrincessRoyal4002009: YMCA Norfolk resident Michael Douglas has received both a regional and a national award as part of Adult Learners Week to recognize his efforts in learning to become a community soccer coach through the Street Life Soccer course run by Norwich City Football Club.
Adult Learners’ Week is the UK’s largest festival of learning, from May 9-15 and as part of it Michael has been named as the East of England Outstanding Learner of the Year and received his accolade at the Duxford Imperial War Museum on May 12.
Michael also travelled to collect the East of England Outstanding Learner of the Year National Award on Friday May 15 at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Westminster from Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Patron of NIACE (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education)
After a difficult start in life, Michael realised he was going off the rails in his twenties and sought help, completing a course of cognitive behavioural therapy and gaining accommodation with the YMCA in Norwich. Homeless and on Job Seekers’ Allowance, Michael took the decision to join Street Life Soccer in September 2007, despite a 13-year break from education.
MichaelDouglasVideoStreet Life Soccer combines education and sports skills training for homeless adults as part of Norwich City Football Club’s (NCFC) Football in the Community programme. Michael completed the 30-week course and received four Open College Network progression qualifications in team-working, decision-making, communication and personal development.
The coaches recommended him for further training and he took the FA Level 1 Coaching qualification and the Level 1 OCN certificate in mentoring with the Norfolk Volunteer Service.
Since September 2008, Michael has used his skills to support new students at Street Life Soccer and has also worked as a volunteer with Football in the Community coaching children. He has got two part-time jobs – with NCFC and another as a support worker for the YMCA.
Michael is now embarking on his FA Level 2 Coaching qualification and a Supporting Adult Learners course with the Workers’ Educational Association. He is also undertaking a Long Term Athlete Development course with NCFC.
He said: “I have gained employment because of the skills I’ve learnt. Learning also helped me achieve my dreams of helping people and coaching. Without learning I wouldn’t be the same person that I am now. Learning makes me complete.”
John Drake, chief executive of YMCA Norfolk, said of Michael’s achievement: “YMCA Norfolk seeks to create opportunities for new beginnings. We are thrilled when residents respond to challenge and move their lives forward, as Michael has evidently done.”

Street Life Soccer is run by Blue Cat Initiative, who nominated Michael for the award. Mike Smith-Clare said: "The Blue Cat Initiative team is proud of both Michael's and the project's achievements. These successes are a direct result of the efforts and commitment from all of those involved with Street Life Soccer."
Adult Learners’ Week is the UK’s largest festival of learning, from May 9-15. Find out more at www.alw.org.uk  

Pictured top is Michael Douglas receiving his national award from HRH Princess Royal in London.

Click on picture above or here to see a video profile of Michael

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