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Sport EFL Day of Action: The football coach with cerebral palsy helping others learn the game


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Sport EFL Day of Action: The football coach with cerebral palsy helping others learn the game

Media playback is not supported on this device EFL Day of Action: The young football coach defying his disabilityJamie Clewer looks like any other young football coach. On a drizzly Wednesday night in Plymouth, the 20-year-old is organising a session for the Plymouth Argyle Community Trust with players who have disabilities. But what makes Jamie…

Sport EFL Day of Action: The football coach with cerebral palsy helping others learn the game

Sport

Media playback is not supported on this device

EFL Day of Action: The young football coach defying his disability

Jamie Clewer looks like any other young football coach.

On a drizzly Wednesday night in Plymouth, the 20-year-old is organising a session for the Plymouth Argyle Community Trust with players who have disabilities.

But what makes Jamie different is that he has had to overcome disability himself to become a coach and work full-time in football.

Jamie, who has cerebral palsy, is taking part in a 15-month apprenticeship which will lead to a sports coaching qualification at the end of it.

“I didn’t know there was that platform for me to join up,” he told BBC Sport.

“But I came on a traineeship and got involved by doing a bit of volunteering before and after, and then the apprenticeship offer came up, I had an interview and managed to secure my place.”

Since then he has not looked back, but it could have been so different for him had his mother not noticed there was something not quite right about him when he was just a few weeks old.

“I was born with a problem with my heart, but they didn’t pick it up at birth,” he said.

“Four weeks later my mum picked it up, just by her motherly instinct, and she took me into the doctors and they referred me on.

“Before you knew it, I was in an ambulance heading up to Southampton to be operated on.”

Seeing players progress

Jamie Clewer has had trials with England’s cerebral palsy team as a youth player

Jamie is one of the people who help coach disability football as part of the EFL Trust and the Wembley National Stadium Trust’s Every Player Counts initiative, which has seen more than 11,000 people get involved with football over the past three years.

As a youth player with cerebral palsy, Jamie rose through the regional ranks and got as far as England trials.

“I thought I may as well use my disability to help others and coach disability football,” he said, having first thought about a career in sports therapy.

“People come in all the time with no football experience at all with a disability.

“You would put them against all the odds, but with just a little bit of coaching and a little bit of motivation they’re flying.

“You can give them a ball each week, even if they just do a couple of taps it’s progress, and each week is progress.

“As soon as you start to see that, before they know it they’re scoring goals and starting to do what they need to do.”

Jamie is particularly proud of the work he and the Plymouth Argyle Community Trust are doing with footballers who have mental health issues.

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“As soon as you walk onto the pitch and start playing football you forget about everything else in the world really, you immerse yourself in the game, even if you don’t really know what you’re doing.

“People don’t always want a coach saying something to them like ‘well done’, they just want to get on with it and it’s things like that, when they can come in and just forget about other things.

“It’s a team sport and you learn to play in a team, but for your individual mental health it’s so important for people to come in and have fun.”

Jamie hopes that once his apprenticeship is over he can get a full-time role working as a coach with the Pilgrims, ensuring that the next generation of young players with disabilities in Plymouth have a coach who they know has been on a similar journey to themselves.

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