Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Lads Who Are off Drugs and on the Ball

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

The Lads Who Are off Drugs and on the Ball

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Haworth

Recovering addicts on Teesside are defeating their destructive habits thanks to the beautiful game.

A ground-breaking programme is using football to help recovering addicts keep fit and prevent them going back to their addictions.

The former addicts get trained by FA qualified student coaches at the University of Teesside and can also complete FA coaching badges and referee qualifications themselves.

After eight weeks, the Tees lads compete against fellow recovering addicts from across the North-east in a five-a-side tournament.

Current members of the programme include former heroin and crack cocaine users and alcoholics.

Neil Wheatley, 41, is a recovering alcoholic from Coulby Newham who has just started the programme.

He said: "My key worker recommended me so I could get a game of football and get some qualifications - the refereeing and coaching badges.

"I have had a problem with drink since my parents died a long time ago. …

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