• Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

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Talented sportsman Aaron Steavens is closer to reaching his goal of becoming a professional football coach thanks to the support of a new scholarship for elite sports people.

Aaron, 22, is in the first year of his BSc Sports Science degree at the University of Sunderland and has been named the first ever recipient of the Douglas Clasper Elite Sports Scholarship.

The scholarship is designed to help a talented student athlete fulfil their potential whilst studying at the University and has been funded and supported by Sunderland-born Mike Clasper CBE in memory of his father, Douglas. Mike is Chairman of SSP Group PLC, a global travel food and beverage company, and Chairman of BIOSS, a global consultancy company.

Douglas Clasper Elite athletes will receive £2,000 each year of study, a tuition fee discount of 20%, a 20% discount on University-managed accommodation, and specialist support, including mentoring, sport massage and physiotherapy, gym access, strength and conditioning, nutritional advice and lifestyle management.

Aaron, from East Boldon, is a talented goalkeeper, and runs popular coaching sessions on social media, with over 500,000 followers across social media platforms including TikTok and Instagram. He has played semi-professional football since the age of 16, starting off at Chester le Street Town, then South Shields, Seaham Red Star, Guisborough Town, West Auckland Town, Whickham and North Shields.

“The opportunity that the Douglas Clasper Elite Sports Scholarship was offering is something I just couldn’t turn down,” says Aaron. “I’ve been in goal since I was 11 years old, and my dream is to be coach for a team like Real Madrid or Bayern. This really feels like I am one step closer to that dream.”

This is one of several awards given by Mike Clasper in memory of his late father. Earlier this month ten BSc Physical Education students – including former Olympic athlete Amy Tinkler – were awarded the new Douglas Clasper Sports Opportunity Award. The award will allow the future PE teachers to learn essential skills and increase their employability through extracurricular coaching qualifications in sports as diverse as athletics and dodgeball.

Mike Clasper said: “I am delighted that Aaron is the first Douglas Clasper Elite Athlete Scholar. My father would have been delighted on so many counts.

“My father loved football, admired the sort of entrepreneurship flair that Aaron shows and, of course Aaron is from my father’s beloved north-east. It is also exciting to see that our Sports Opportunity Fund is already helping a wider group of students at the University of Sunderland.”

Aaron is currently goalkeeper for Dunston UTS and Newcastle Blue Star at semi-professional level, and also runs his own business, ASGKcoaching, working with all ages and levels from grassroots to professional.

He added: “The Douglas Clasper Elite Sports Scholarship will be amazing for my studies. I can start investing more into my education to help with my long-term career goal of being a professional football coach.”

The University of Sunderland offers scholarships to applicants, undergraduates and graduates to improve their opportunities, studies and professional career aspirations. To find out more about what is available go to: sunderland.ac.uk