A Knowle West football coach who started a club at The Park Centre ten years ago to “keep kids off the street” has won the BBC Sports Personality Unsung Hero award.
Mike Alden (56) who has brittle bone disease and uses a mobility scooter was given the accolade in a live ceremony at Salford last night (December 21). He said he was “shocked” and “very proud” – describing the event as a “once in a lifetime experience.”
The award celebrates volunteers who make a positive impact in their community by enabling participation in grassroots sports.
Mike regularly has 120 young people playing for The Park Knowle FC at the Centre on Daventry Road – as well as adults. His teams cater for all ages and abilities, from boys and girls to disability and veteran teams and he says “no-one is turned away” – aiming to show that “everyone is capable.”
He was nominated by Friends of Redcatch Park (FoRP) where his teams sometimes play – with members impressed by his dedication and what his club was doing for the community.
Mike who has been running football teams in the area for 25 years was shortlisted in the final eight – competing against another South Bristolian, Becca Todd of Team Brave, an inclusive women’s football club based at Windmill Hill City Farm.
A group of around 60 local people watched the ceremony at a live screening at The Park Centre last night – with the whole room erupting in cheers when he won.
Accepting the award Mike said: “…The club, we pride ourselves on our disability side of sport. Everybody should be included in everything. We have 40 players with so many different disabilities and we manage to cater for all of them.
“With our youth teams, we’ve got kids as young as seven ranging up to 15. About 120 play every week. You never know one day one of them might be sat there. That’s what we aim for. Thank you very much.”
Sian Ellis-Thomas of FoRP said: “Last night was so emotional, I’m so thoroughly chuffed that Mike has finally had the recognition he deserves for all his incredible work. He so deserves the BBC Unsung Hero award and it was a very beautiful moment to be part of.
“But awards alone are not enough. There’s so much more work to do to help him get the financial support he needs to make essential improvements to the club and ensure it’s security going forward. So this is just the beginning of our journey with Mike. Watch this space!”