Norwich teenager named football coach of the year after cancer battle
PUBLISHED: 06:30 23 June 2012
A Norwich teenager who spent more than a year battling an aggressive cancer has been named coach of the year for refusing to let his illness get in the way of his volunteering with young footballers.
Jordan Gooch was diagnosed with an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in April 2010, when he was 16.
Now 18, the Thorpe St Andrew School sixth former has been in remission since April last year, after enduring several months of gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
But despite the side effects of the treatment, Jordan was determined to continue to coach with New Buckenham Junior Football Club and has now been named as the Norfolk coach of the year in the FA community awards.
He will now go through to the regional judging stage of the awards.
"I think he’s an inspiration. His positive attitude helped all of us because he never felt sorry for himself and he never complained."
Jordan’s mum, Amanda Allen, who is a librarian at Thorpe St Andrew School, hopes, weather permitting, to do a tandem skydive today to raise money for the three organisations which helped her son through a very tough time.
Ms Allen, of Green Court, Thorpe St Andrew, said: “I think he’s an inspiration. His positive attitude helped all of us because he never felt sorry for himself and he never complained.”
Jordan, who has an older brother Jamie, 25, and sister Abbie, 21, is determined to become a football coach and has just finished taking his A-levels.
He has coached the now under-12s side for three seasons and he is working towards his second coaching badge.
He said: “I had just turned 16 when I took over and I basically had a squad of three players.
“So I recruited more and coached them to develop, not win. In our first season we came bottom of the league and in the second season we came second bottom, but were giving teams a good game. This season we came third, with the same squad of players, and the team is so enthusiastic and full of confidence.
“I enjoy it and there’s no better feeling than teaching them a new drill or a specific part of the game and then seeing the players think about it and use it on the pitch and knowing they learnt it from you.
“I was never going to leave it and I am determined to be a football coach and go as far as I can.
“The club were brilliant when I was ill and the parents were fantastic and understanding if I had to cancel training.
“The support we had from the hospital and charities was so important too.
“I had no choice but to get on with it, so I did, but Mum doesn’t have to do this skydive. I can’t describe how proud I am of her for doing it.”
Ms Allen, who said her colleagues at the Laundry Lane school had been very supportive throughout, added: “I’m nervous about the skydive as I don’t like heights, but if you want people to sponsor you it’s got to be something that will challenge you and it can’t be easy.
“When he was ill I felt like I couldn’t control anything. Now I can do this and give something back to the people who helped keep us going.”
The 46-year-old will be raising money for children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent, which provides a social worker to give practical and emotional support to families in Norfolk.
Money will also be going towards the Starlight Children’s Foundation, which gave Jordan, a lifelong Chelsea fan, a weekend trip to London to see a game and meet the players afterwards.
The third organisation to benefit from the fundraising is the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s Colney Centre and Weybourne Day Unit, as Jordan was old enough to choose to be treated nearer to home rather than travelling to Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge.
Ms Allen said: “The Colney Centre where Jordan received his treatment was and still is amazing. The staff on the Weybourne Day Unit were always supportive and positive and Jordan’s consultant, Jennie Wimperis, is a rock, always there to help and advise no matter how busy she is.
“To give all of these people something back is a very small way to thank them. Jordan and I could not have coped without them or our family and friends, we received fantastic support.”
Ms Allen has fundraising pages for CLIC Sargent and the Starlight Children’s Foundation at www.justgiving.com/Amanda-Allen-ClicSargent and www.justgiving.com/ Amanda-Allen-Starlight
To donate to the N&N’s Colney Centre email firstname.lastname@example.org
Jordan will be presented with his award at an event on Thursday, September 13, in Norwich, which will feature
World Cup Final Referee Howard Webb.
As well as hearing from Mr Webb, the evening will include a three course meal, presentations to Norfolk’s FA Community Award winners for 2011-12 and a charity auction of football memorabilia.
Tickets will be on sale from July 1 and more information will be available at www.NorfolkFA.com