Michael Lowe has been kicking a ball around since he could walk. He now combines his passion for football with a desire to help others change their lives through sport, and his dedication to volunteering has earned him a prestigious Edge Hill University Excellence Scholarship.
19 year old Sports Development student Michael has been volunteering in his local community for several years. In 2013, he began volunteering for Chorley Council’s StreetGames initiative, Doorstep Sports, 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.
“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,” says Michael. “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.”
As well as 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.
“I really enjoy getting to know the kids and building up a professional but fun relationship with them,” says Michael. “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 he started 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.
“I volunteer two afternoons a week and in the school holidays for Everton in the Community and usually run Doorstep Sport sessions on Friday nights,” says Michael, “as that’s the most important night for keeping kids out of trouble. Most of my friends are out on Friday nights but I’d rather be playing sport than out drinking!”
As if that wasn’t enough, Michael also helps organise fundraising events for a range of local charities including Wigan FC Legends football match and sponsored walks and bike rides for Wigan Athletic football club to raise money for children with serious illnesses.
“As well as being rewarding and fun, I’ve also been able to use my volunteering in my studies at Edge Hill,” adds Michael. “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.
“It’s nice when someone notices what you do,” says Michael. “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!”