DARREN Weaver returned to education to help children through sport.
And now the university graduate is celebrating winning an award for his research.
Darren, 41, received a Highly Commended Regional Award as part of an international initiative to celebrate the benefits of learning.
The Newsome man graduated from the University of Huddersfield in November with a first class honours in Youth and Community Work.
And that came after he left school at the age of 16 with a handful of CSEs, which was the old school leaving qualification awarded to pupils.
He found himself a job, working first as a mechanic and then at a local foundry.
Darren was a keen football coach and referee in his spare time and became concerned about the over-coaching of children.
He was also concerned about the highly competitive ethos of the game as well as the behaviour of parents on touchlines.
He spoke to a fellow volunteer about his concerns and made aware of youth work as a profession.
He decided to return to learning and enrolled at the university to study Youth and Community work.
Darren said: “I had worked in heavy industry for a long time and realised I needed to re-educate myself.
“My sporting life was coming to an end and I felt that I could help kids through sport so I decided to enrol at university.”
During his time at the university Darren wrote a dissertation about the concerns he had around children and football coaching.
As part of his research he spoke with the Football Association and the Minister of Sport.
He said: “The results were extremely interesting.
“I based my dissertation on the concerns I had around children and football coaching.
“With the help of the FA I ran focus groups with young people aged eight to 11.
“I asked them what they thought about the transition periods of initially playing football on a small playing area just seven-a-side, to them playing on a full sized pitch in an 11-a-side game.
“I also asked what these implications meant to them, as well as the types of comments they could hear from parents and coaches on the touchline.”
Darren received his award as part of Adult Learners Week, which celebrates learning in 55 countries.
He was received the award for the Yorkshire and Humber region at an award ceremony in Leeds.
Darren’s course leader Dr Helen Jones, who nominated him for the award, said: “Darren stood out because he worked phenomenally hard throughout his three years at Huddersfield.
“His dissertation was exceptional and included research that went beyond that of the average student.”
Darren, who now works for Kirklees Council, is enjoying putting his personal and academic skills to good use helping young people.
He works with children at local youth clubs, care homes and sports groups.