A SOUTHAMPTON PE teacher has won an award for helping children discover their love for football.
Aaron Evans was also involved in a young girl’s football journey that led her being scouted by Southampton FC Academy.
Now, Nationwide has awarded him with a Mutual Respect Award for his contributions to the community.
Aaron teaches PE full time at The Federation of Bursledon Infant and Junior School, and volunteers at Bursledon Youth FC.
He said: “There are amazing stories that have come from coaching which are really rewarding.
“For example, we had a little girl who used to come down and do cartwheels on the side of the pitch whilst her brother played, so one day I encouraged her to get involved.
“She played in our mixed Under-9s team in her first season, then moved onto a higher-level girl’s only team, and now she’s been scouted by Premier League Academy Southampton FC in her third year of playing.
“Of course I can’t take full credit for her development, but I did kickstart her grassroots journey and hope to do the same with as much young talent as I can.”
As well as coaching, Aaron has raised about £2,000 across many charity challenges.
He was inspired to start fundraising after his mum passed away.
Aaron said: “My mum passed away a few years ago and she suffered with poor mental health, so mental health awareness has always been close to my heart and a big factor in the charities that I choose to raise money for.
“Every time I do a fundraiser, I’ll set the donation target quite low because I think nobody’s going to be interested as it’s a personal thing.
“However, every time I’ve done it, I’ve been overwhelmed with the support I’ve received and have surpassed my target every time. You don’t realize how many people are affected by these issues until you get talking to people. and they want to help the cause.”
He added that he is “overjoyed” with the award.
“It’s not just me though, there are plenty of other people like me doing their bit for the local community, so I hope they get recognized too,” he said.
“My advice to anyone who is looking to get involved in football or fundraising is to just take the plunge.
“It’s worth the sleepless nights as once you get the buzz of accomplishment it keeps you striving for more.”
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