For me disability football is something that is very new to me and something that I wouldn’t really see myself being able to getting involved in. However due to the fact that I coach at Sir Tom Finney FC, I was able to get involved with disability football which would help to develop me as a coach. In addition to this I wasn’t too sure where to go or who to meet once I arrived at the session, so right from the start I felt a bit out of my comfort zone.
Once I had been introduced the first thing that struck me was how welcoming everyone at the session was. Everyone that I spoke too welcomed me with open arms to the session, this included the coaches, participants, parents and finally the formal figures at the club. Every one of the players that were taking part came and spoke to me before the session. Another thing that I noticed was that the participants were always willing to make conversation so that I could get to know them, which was something that doesn’t really happen as much in able bodied coaching. This allowed me to get to know the players which is a very important aspect when coaching in my opinion.
As it was my first week attending the disability coaching session I did not actually coach because I wanted to get a feel of what it was all about and how the whole thing ran. I observed a coaching session along with another new coach so that we could see what the kind of things they work on, actually are. From observing the group I discovered that there were a wide range of abilities within the group, because the sessions that were offered were on a pay as you play basis. Therefore anyone could turn up whether they had a team or not which is something that the participants value highly. In fact one of the player stated that “the session is like money to me”. This really did show me how much the sessions being run actually mean to the players. I was also utterly amazed at some of the players and the ability which they had. In all honesty if some of these players were playing alongside able bodied players they would fit in with ease and in fact show some of them up. Due to the fact that the players were putting all their effort in one player got seriously hurt and banged his head on the wall causing him to go down. In all honesty something like this has never happened before when coaching, participating or even observing. I was shocked at first and didn’t really know what to do as I was observing and not actually running the session. I did go the other coaches and tell them that a player was seriously hurt, however before i even had chance one of the coaches was over there in a flash to assess the situation and this really did act as a prime example for the future when I am coaching. As a result of this I learnt that whatever the injury is, the game must be stopped so that the player can be assessed and action can be taken as soon as possible.
As a final point one thing that I had to be wary of was the way in which I spoke to the players and this was something that I was quite conscious about throughout the whole session. I was then told that a coach had been hit once before which didn’t really help settle my nerves. As stated by FA, (2014) “Too much information can lead to boredom and even frustration and this may be particularly true if there are challenges to communication – for example those with a learning disability, speech or hearing impairment”. This quote from the football associations coaching disabled footballers manual briefly explains how to communicate with disabled footballers. The manual goes on to explain how to communicate with visually impaired players as well as hearing impaired as well as other disabilities within football. I will therefore keep this in mind when I next coach a disability session. I need to ensure that I use the correct language as well as the correct mannerisms so that the players listen and learn new skills.
Overall I believe that the session that I observed was a success as the players knew what they were working on by the end of the session and used this when they participated in the match at the end of the session. However the only issue was that one of the drills didn’t really seem to fit in with the theme of possession and more on reactions in my personal opinion. I believe that there should only be one aspect being worked on in a session because it allows the players to improve this skill before they move onto something new.
FA (2014) Coaching Disabled Footballers Manual. Available at: http://www.disabilitysportworcester.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Coaching-Disabled-Footballers-Manual.pdf (Accessed 4th October 2015).