AJ Sport took home the award for ‘Community Group of the Year’ at the Nottingham City Home Awards, for their inspirational work for providing alternatives through sport for young people who may otherwise risk a much different path in life.
This is the first time in three years that the ceremony has taken place in person at Nottingham’s Council House on Thursday 16th March.
Nottingham City Homes created the awards to recognise and award people and groups in the area who make a positive difference on their community.
“It’s important for the awards to happen because it brings everyone together.” says Ashley, “It was great to be surrounded by people who are like-minded and want to make a difference.”
The Academy began with football but now includes other sports, a youth club and a music studio which they built from scratch during the pandemic because music can also attract other avenues for young people.
Co-founders Ashley Cook and Junior Keza were to become the beacon of light for many young people across Nottingham after creating AJ Sport in 2014.
The pair formed a friendship when they both moved to Nottingham and with not knowing anyone else in the area, they became friends whilst playing in the same football team together.
Discovering a lack of engagement in the deprived area, they felt a natural instinct to step up and help the community.
“It was an issue that there wasn’t much going on in our area and was hard to find activities that are consistent, and kids need consistency and stability.” comments Ashley, “For some of these kids, it might be the highlight of their week or maybe an escape from something.”
Now having moved to a permanent location at the Sheila Roper Community Centre in 2019, opening an Academy in London a year and a half ago and now one in Manchester two months ago, they have thrived and aim to keep helping deprived children across the UK.
Angie Stanton, winner of the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ and caretaker of the Sheila Roper Community Centre adds: “They really are an asset to the Lenton Abbey Community.”
For more information about AJ Sport, please visit: www.facebook.com/AJsportacademy/
Photo 1: AJ Sport at the awards ceremony in March. Photo credit: Nottingham City Homes.
Photo 2: Junior Keza (left) and Ashley Cook (right) after winning the award. Photo credit: Ashley Cook
Written by Scarlett Acres