England Football Learning has launched a new free online module, with its ‘Introduction to Coaching Disabled Footballers’ module aiming to help existing grassroots clubs become more confident and inclusive towards coaching disabled footballers.
The course follows the 2021 launch of Football Your Way, The FA’s landmark disability football plan to help develop, improve, and raise awareness of disability and disability football.
In addition to helping to create and sustain a culture across the sport where disabled people have access to all opportunities and feel they truly belong, both on and off the pitch through Football Your Way, research was commissioned by England Football to help develop a disability training workshop and toolkit for grassroots football clubs to become more inclusive of disabled people on and off the pitch.
The research found that despite club volunteers being highly motivated to provide quality experiences for disabled people to play football at their club, coaches had a lack of knowledge and confidence about adapting football for disabled players. Coaches also felt they lacked the training and know-how to reach disabled people.
It also revealed that although disabled people are motivated to play football and clubs are motivated to provide quality experiences, key barriers stop many disabled people from playing. 28% of disabled people feel coaches don’t understand how to include them, while 31% worry they won’t be good enough.
The new ‘Introduction to Coaching Disabled Footballers’ free online course will address many of the barriers identified within the research. The course will provide knowledge and raise awareness on coaching disabled footballers, along with exploring the practical application of coaching tools, tactics, and techniques to adapt delivery to meet the needs of disabled footballers. The course is available to coaches aged 16 years of age and over and takes 60 minutes to complete.
Lawrence Lok, National Coach Development Lead, FA Education said; “We’re delighted to launch the ‘Introduction to Coaching Disabled Footballers’ module, which aims to help increase public awareness and education around how grassroots coaches can adapt their existing sessions with some very easy steps.
Getting to know your players and adjusting sessions, using some of the strategies explored on the course, will help make delivery more inclusive and improve the experience for everyone. All the elements of our disability club support package are there to support and inspire the grassroots workforce, and help kickstart a disability provision at more clubs around the country at which point we will truly make football a Game For All.”
Steph Hall, Coach of Club Doncaster Titans’ Ladies Disability Team and its Under-13s sides added: “I decided to coach to try and give my love of football to others, and to give others the opportunity to play which I didn’t have myself.
I’ve done my FA coaching qualifications, I had help from the club and The FA who helped with mentoring and generally giving advice. Doing the courses have given me a deeper insight into why I’m doing a session of a certain topic, and once you get to know the players you get to figure out what their needs are. Get to know them, learn what they like and dislike. If you make a session that they like and enjoy they’re more likely to then participate.
“My advice for anybody getting into disability football would be to not be scared because everybody is very welcoming. As long as you give it a go, try and keep everyone included and show that you’re willing to learn and develop them and do everything you can do to help your players they’ll be really supportive and help you to keep going.”
Before ‘Introduction to Coaching Disabled Footballers’, participants are recommended to complete the ‘Disability Football Introduction’ course, which covers what is meant by disability and introduces the different pathways available for disabled players. To supplement their education, a follow-up Face-to-Face CPD module is coming soon and will be rolled out via the CFA network.