YOUNG people are being given a helping hand to stay on the straight and narrow through an innovative sports scheme.
Horden-based nephew-and-uncle team, Keith and Phil Brown, have set up a company called GlobalSport, which could eventually lead to players earning a scholarship with a university in America.
The pair are working with youngsters who have struggled with mainstream education. They use sport to give them a new focus and learn skills including teamwork and listening to instructions.
It is hoped that help from Keith, 26, and Phil, 41, will prevent the youngsters from being sent to pupil referral units.
Keith and Phil, run sessions at the Helford Road Pavilion, in Peterlee, and also work with young people from special needs schools. They have been training 20 Key Stage 2 children in football skills and say a lot of progress has been made.
Keith had trials with Rochdale and later played in the Northern League for Horden CRW and Easington Colliery AFC.
He then went to Bethel University, in America, where he captained the university team for two seasons and took on the coach’s role.
Phil, a dad of one, also played Northern League football and represented the British Army at football when he was a member of the 3rd Battalion of the Light Infantry from 1986 to 1992.
Keith said: “We try to offer the young people an alternative curriculum right from school to college to employment routes, or from college to University in America.
“We are also developing an education programme, with fitness and nutrition and possibly including rugby.
“It’s about teaching them skills, working as a team, taking other points of view on board, responsibility, communication and following instructions.”
He said some players had gone on to join teams, some had joined football development centres and another had applied for a sports apprenticeship.
Sessions include one-and-a-half hours of classroom work, including the Football Association’s Respect programme, followed by one-and-a-half hour’s coaching, which includes focusing on leadership skills.
Keith said: “From starting out in December, they have become more friendly and some have grown up.
“They have started to think more about what they are going to do when they leave school instead of looking at the present and attitude of ‘I can’t be bothered’.
“They know even if they don’t want to do it, it will benefit them in the long run.”
For more information, visit www.globalsportltd.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org