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Newcastle United Foundation Attend Inclusive Disability Coach Education In Belfast

After a successful programme in 2017, the Irish Football Association once again teamed up with the Scort Foundation to host the Tandem Young Coach Education in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Ten young men and women with and without disabilities took part in the week-long coaching programme, which earned them the Irish Football Association Level 1 Coaching Disabled Footballers Award.

The ten participants paired up in five so-called Tandems, each consisting of a young adult with, and one without a disability. Together, these Tandems completed their education in disability football coaching to take on more responsibility in their own disability football teams in the future.

Besides the IFA offering six local participants the opportunity to take part in the programme, Newcastle United Foundation sent four young men and women with and without disabilities to Northern Ireland to take up this opportunity. During various sessions on and off the football pitch, the five Tandems were introduced to the basics of (disability) football coaching and pedagogical know-how in the field of disability. In practical sessions with children from local schools, they were able to apply their newly acquired knowledge and gain confidence in coaching children with both mental and physical disabilities.

Charlie, a non-disabled Tandem partner from the Newcastle United Foundation, talked with pride about how his partner has developed over the course of the week: “My proudest moment from the Tandem aspect is probably seeing my partner, Taylor, progress from Monday to Friday and just through the week constantly building to where he can take a session. From the start where he was just doing bits and pieces but he’s now taking a full session and he’s putting loads of good coaching points across, nice and loud, full of confidence.”

Besides football-specific sessions, the participants were introduced to the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Through workshops, challenges and on-field sessions, instructors and Scort staff thus informed the Tandems about the physical and mental benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and how to pass on this knowledge – through play and football – to the kids of their disability football teams in the future.

Mark Daglish, Football Development Officer at Newcastle United Foundation reiterated the benefit of the Tandem approach: “From our point of view, the stuff we do back home is totally different to this. So, it’s been great being given the opportunity to come across and deliver, especially with the guys being on it from the Foundation as well. I think the benefit of the Tandem aspect is that there is a sort of safety net for the guys that are not as confident.”

He also went on to discuss the wider impact that this course will have on people back in Newcastle: “This can only benefit other people with disabilities in Newcastle. We work with 26 groups and 45 SEN (Special Educational Needs) schools. The knowledge that we have gained, and the coaches have gained this week, can only benefit the schools and clubs back home as they are taking more knowledge back with them.”

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