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Setting The Bar For Visually Impaired Coaching

Paul Matheson has become the first qualified Assistant FA Coach in the UK with no sight thanks to Newcastle United Foundation and Henshaws Society for blind people.

Paul, 51 from Newcastle, has been a Newcastle United fan since the age of two and attended his first magpie’s game at the age of five. He lost his sight as the result of optic nerve damage, caused by Glaucoma, and has been registered severely sight impaired for 10 years.

Before losing his sight, PauI loved playing sports, however thought that his sight issues would put an end to his active lifestyle.

Paul said:

“When I lost my sight I just stopped playing football. You just don’t imagine that’s something you can still do and I felt as though I’d lost a huge part of my enjoyment of life.”

Supported by Henshaws, the Toon fan was introduced to Newcastle United Foundation’s Visually Impaired training programme in June 2013. Although nervous at the beginning, Paul jumped at the chanced to be part of the game again.

“When I first started to play my coordination wasn’t great. I was quite hesitant and would stand around waiting for the ball to come to me. It took a few weeks to adapt but then my confidence increased and I was soon able to run after the ball.

Some people say football is only a game, but it’s much more than that to me.”

Not only has Paul achieved his Assistant FA Coaching badge, the training has helped develop his spatial awareness, communication and social skills, which he believes are pivotal in the world of blind football.

The football fanatic now volunteers on Wednesday evening’s to pass on his knowledge to the children’s team. He wishes to move onto full time coaching, to help children experience the same enjoyment of the game. Paul also represented Newcastle United in a four team International football tournament last November in Belfast.

Philippa Taylor, Henshaws Community Services Development Officer, said:

“I have been totally blown away by Paul’s football skills, his mobility and independence. He never ceases to amaze me in what he can do “

Paul added:

“The V. I sessions have opened up doors for me and given me football back; I couldn’t be without it now. It’s such a huge part of who I am and I’ve realised that doesn’t have to change just because I lost my sight.”

For more information on our Visually Impaired training, or any other disability football courses, contact Reggie Dornan at reggie.dornan@nufc.co.uk

To find out more about Henshaws’ blind football programme, or their range of other services supporting people with visual impairment, call 0191 275 9417, email newcastle@henshaws.org.uk or visit www.henshaws.org.uk<http://www.henshaws.org.uk

For more information on how you can get involved
Email foundation@nufc.co.uk

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