The award, presented by Aontas, is part of a week long celebration of lifelong learning where sport has been very much to the fore.
This particular award was given in recognition of the outstanding achievements of the project in helping people who are unemployed to return to learning and to gain accredited education in the area of sports and recreation.
One of the graduates from Project Futsal is Stephanie Roche who has gone on to play for the Irish national women’s team and Peamount United. ‘Every module was sports related’ she said. ‘The course gave me great confidence and qualifications to try and get work in the sports sector. I really don’t think I would have got this from any other course.’ Stephanie is now involved with developing girls football in Dublin 15 and planning to further her education with a Degree in Sports at IT Carlow.
Roche shot to prominence earlier in the football season when her spectacular goal from Peamount became a You Tube sensation with well over one million views around the world.
“The range of projects submitted for the awards this year once again highlights that learning isn’t just in the classroom,” said Paul O’Toole, CEO of SOLAS. “Both the providers and learners have shown that tailored, high quality learning can occur in many different formats across many different facets of life.”
Project FUTSAL is aimed at enhancing participant’s employability and their prospects of progressing to further or third level education. A full FETAC level 5 award in Sport & Recreation studies is delivered alongside a broad range of certified football courses and volunteer community work placements.
500 people have taken part over the past three years, with 85% of those who sign up completing the course. 60% of those who completed the course in its first year went on to full time employment.
An added benefit has been that many of the students give back to their communities – sharing their skills on a voluntary basis within the community.
The FAI has been particularly strong in the field of corporate social responsibility delivering and supporting a range of programmes that make a real difference.