Former England Para Lions Player Leads Disability Football Session for RTSFC Coaching Students

Students at the college, who are part of The Saints Foundation Sports Coaching academy, spent an afternoon upskilling their knowledge, understanding and awareness of inclusion in sport with a session on Disability Football.

The session raised student’s awareness and knowledge of coaching for disabled participants, how to adapt their approach, and what they need to think about to ensure their coaching sessions are inclusive for all. From learning about the talent and grassroots pathways for disability football, through to what needs to be considered when planning a match, students were challenged to make a change and see how they can personally make a difference to making football more inclusive. Students also had the opportunity to test their coaching and football skills in pairs as they were challenged with some blind football activities.

“Raising awareness amongst coaches about the different opportunities available to disabled players and giving them the background and understanding of some of the challenges faced by players with a disability is an important step to ensure continued inclusiveness in sport”

Martin Sinclair, former Para Lions Player and SaintsAbility Development Officer

The session formed part of their ongoing Sports Coaching training, and was run by Mike Pink – SaintsAbility Assistant Project Officer, and Martin Sinclair – Development Officer and former England player for the Para Lions who recently played for England in the International Federation of Cerebral Palsy (CP) World Cup which took place in Spain over the summer. The Saints Foundation offers regular football sessions for people of all ages with physical and cognitive impairments and aims to inspire them to showcase their ability, rather than their disability.

“Running sessions like these with the coaches of the future are so important. It’s vital they have the awareness and knowledge to ensure their sessions are inclusive – If someone with a disability attends one of their sessions, they need the skills and confidence to adjust to their needs, giving them a welcoming environment and a positive experience.”

Mike Pink, Assistant Project Officer from The Saints Foundation

Jacob Toms, Workforce and Education Officer for The Saints Foundation, who teaches regular sessions with the Coaching Academy students as part of their ongoing course said:

 “The Disability Football Coaching Workshop’ was not only a unique experience for the students, but an excellent educational piece, which will hopefully raise awareness around disability football coaching. Through my own experiences of coaching the Saints Foundation Elite Disability side, I felt the delivery of such a workshop as part of their wider coaching delivery would serve the students well. The coaches need to be prepared, ready and confident to coach in an inclusive manner incorporating participants with a wide range of barriers. Throughout the year there will be a variety of workshops available to the students, showcasing The Saints Foundation’s charitable delivery within the Southampton area.”

Jacob Toms, Workforce and Education Officer for The Saints Foundation