Bradley Johnston works, lives and breathes sport. He knows all about its benefits - and he’s on a mission to get Doncaster ‘sported’.
This month’s revelations that Doncaster is officially one of the fattest places in England just adds further weight to Bradley’s latest brainwave.
The professional sports coach launched project Optimism Is at Campsmount Technology College last month, a platform to enhance the lives of young people in the community via sport.
An Askern lad, with a family background in mining, Johnston puts his own personal and career development down to sport.
Upon his release from Scunthorpe United youth’s ranks, the 27-year-old set about gaining a degree, became a personal trainer and now coaches physical education in ten Doncaster schools.
He’s well qualified to talk about the social, physical and psychological benefits of sport.
“From my early childhood sport has helped me develop a healthy body and mind,” said Johnston.
“It has taught me discipline and the benefits of being part of a team, as well as the ability to lead by example.
“Project Optimism Is is a way of bringing the community together and making kids feel better about themselves.
“I love working with kids and I want to give them the best oppotunity to make the best of themselves.
“Sport can do that. It gives youngsters confidence and a sense of belonging.
“I come from a mining background myself,” he added.
“When I was younger my parents couldn’t always afford to send me to sports coaching camps, and I know there’s lots of kids in Doncaster who are in the same boat.
“That’s why Optimism Is is free to attend.
“We’ve rolled it out in Askern to start with and it’s our intention to set up more camps around the town.
“It’s all about educating young people about the benefits of healthy living. Through sport, we’ll show them how they can excel and express themselves.”
Labour leader and Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband was guest of honour at the project’s recent launch day.
He said: “It’s a fantastic project and everybody involved in putting Optimism Is together should be congratulated.
“It’s an excellent way of giving children of all ages – many of who were inspired by last summer’s Olympics – the chance to engage in sport.
“Young people who are involved in sport form an early age are less likely to go off the rails later in life.
“It also helps to nurture the sporting talent that exists here in Doncaster.”