Walsall College’s Supported Learning Sport and Football Academy, the first of its kind in the UK, has been recognised with a prestigious honour from Birmingham County Football Association at its annual awards ceremony.
Recognising and rewarding the clubs, leagues and individuals that show incredible dedication for the benefit of grassroots football, Birmingham County Football Association hosted its annual awards ceremony at Birmingham City Football Club’s St Andrew’s Stadium on Monday 17 July.
Walsall College was presented with the Education Project of the Year award for its Supported Learning Academy, designed especially for students with learning difficulties and disabilities.
The academy provides supported learning students with opportunities to gain accredited qualifications and progression routes to higher level sport courses at college or to employment.
Academy students work towards gaining an entry level Sports qualification alongside Functional Skills qualifications in English, maths and ICT. The course also includes work related elements to support students to develop their practical and employability skills.
Curriculum Manager for Supported Learning at Walsall College, Paul Bagnall, said: “We are delighted and very proud to receive recognition for our academy, which was only established last year. It’s a great reward for all the hard work and dedication staff from both the Supported Learning and Sport departments have put in to ensuring its success.
“In the first year alone we entered seven football teams, as well as a girls’ team, across five competitive leagues across the region, with one team winning silver medals in the FA People’s Disability Cup Competition and a number of students progressing to higher level qualifications.
“We now hope to build on this and continue improving access to sport for more students and ensure sports qualifications are inclusive to all students who want to achieve them.”
The awards ceremony was hosted by BBC West Midlands’ Jenny Wilkes, with over 100 grassroots ambassadors and volunteers in attendance, representing a total of 18 clubs, leagues or football organisations from across the region. Also in attendance to present awards to deserving winners were a number of names within the game with Birmingham connections, including former Aston Villa strikers Darius Vassell and Marlon Harewood, and Solihull Moors’ Darren Carter.