DODGING balls has led to landing jobs for a group of unemployed young people.
A course in dodgeball and employability skills has opened a world of opportunity to the 18 to 21-year-olds.
Community Interest Companies North East Sport and Inspira Solutions teamed up to land £9,000 of funding from the Department for Work and Pensions’s Flexible Support Fund to get people off benefits and into work.
And so far they can boast of a student finding coaching work in Dubai and another gaining a place at university.
The group meet every week at Sans Street Community Centre in Sunderland’s East End.
As well as keeping fit and having fun, they have also been given tips on how to brush up their employability skills - with resounding success.
One girl was offered a job coaching in Dubai after just three weeks on the course.
Corey Barnes, of Queen Alexandra Road, in Sunderland, was a former semi-professional footballer who had spent four months on the dole.
The 21-year-old has now been offered a place on a teaching qualification at Northumbria University in Newcastle.
Corey, who has also worked with disabled children at Castlegreen Community School in Hylton Castle, is also heading off to Sweden to play football over the summer.
He said: “It definitely would have been a lot harder without this.”
Fellow student Bradley Anderson is also back into the world of work, with a work trial at car giant Nissan.
But the 19-year-old from Hendon also kept up his weekly dodgeball sessions.
“It’s about keeping active and doing something else,” he said.
Jo Haddrick, from Inspira Solutions, said: “Some of them have gone on to do their referee FA level one course and specialist youth training with the FA and dodgeball level one.
“It’s encouraging them to get out of bed and get active.
“Then we are doing group work around interview techniques and what employers are looking for, then working with them one-to-one.
“90 per cent of them are coming every week.” Although funding for the course is due to come to an end, Joanna and Peter Curtis from NE Sport are looking at other cash pots to keep the sports elements of the sessions running.
Peter, who moved his not-for-profit organisation into Hendon’s Container City last year, said: “Some of them have nothing else to do and it is keeping them off the streets.”