Jack, 7, has a visual impairment and has been training with Sandbach United for several years, progressing from their soccer school into the mini soccer teams.
It was brought to the club’s attention that Jack was struggling a little with the matches and training sessions. Therefore, the club’s Inclusion Officer, Liz Clark, intervened to see if there was any support the club could introduce to ensure Jack felt included in the sessions.
After speaking with Jack’s parents and the coaches, the club were able to recruit a young volunteer, James, from their U16 team to act as a 1-2-1 coach for Jack. James has provided additional support and enabled Jack to focus more on the practices and teach him a few skills. The impact of this small intervention has been huge and enabled Jack to continue to train at the club with his friends. James said: “After seeing the message in the WhatsApp group I jumped at the chance to get involved. I’ve been at the sessions for a few months now, Jack’s developing his skills and I’m really enjoying it.”
The team’s coaches were also keen to praise the intervention by the club and James’ impact on the sessions. It has allowed them to spread their attention across the whole team due to having additional coaching support. Jack is also getting a better experience and his confidence and skills levels have increased as a result.
Jack, his sister and dad have also started attending a local disability session at Nantwich Town FC. This has provided extra training for Jack and his dad was also keen to stress how good the coaches at the session have been. “The coach at the session has a similar visual impairment to Jack and they have identified blind spots in his vision and provided specialist training to help improve Jack’s football,” he said.
Cheshire FA Disability and Inclusion Football Development Officer, Daniel Landstrom, added: "Sandbach United and Nantwich Town are true community clubs providing Football For All in their local area. They have embraced inclusivity and shown how making small reasonable adjustments can create a positive experience for everyone. This is a great example of how local clubs can work together to ensure people can access football regardless of their ability.’
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