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Balls to Poverty founder is NTU’s Alumnus of the Year

18 November 2013

Joe Sargison is Alumnus of the Year 2013A sports coach whose charity has handed out more than 28,000 footballs and rugby balls to South African and Ugandan children has been named as Nottingham Trent University's Alumnus of the year.

Joe Sargison (PGCE 2004) set up Balls to Poverty in 2004 following a trip to Johannesburg, where he found a group of township children playing barefoot with a bunch of rags formed into a makeshift football.

He gave them a football and was astounded by the effect such a simple gesture had on them.  Now, almost ten years later, Balls to Poverty has raised more than £275,000 and held 800 education workshops for South African and Ugandan coaches. It has won praise for the way it has used sport to help steer youngsters away from crime and drug abuse and also offers regular coaching for more than 20,000 children in Nottingham.

Joe was working as director of the Football Performance Programme at Central College Nottingham when he first visited South Africa.

After his initial trip he returned to South Africa in 2005 with 16 students and three staff from the college, 30 balls and some football kits.  His team joined the Premier Cup football championships in Cape Town and reached the last 16. When not competing, they coached and played with local teams.

He said: "Sports coaching is a powerful tool which can help steer young people away from issues like crime, gangs and drug abuse. In fact, Western Cape Province authorities in South Africa attribute some of their reduced crime figures to the influence of Balls to Poverty.”

He added:  "It's great to be recognised by Nottingham Trent University where my teaching career began”.

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