We spoke to Middlesbrough Powerchair coach Carolyn Bean about her drive, the impact of the club and how they started their sessions.
Why did you want to set up your own club?
I used to run a youth group for people with Muscular Dystrophy and Cath (my partner) and I were looking for inclusive activities we could do. We found powerchair football at Percy Hedley School in Newcastle and we were both instantly hooked!
Fast forward four years after playing in the National Premiership as well as attending a couple of European competitions with Northern Thunder too; Cath and I decided, along with a couple of other players who were also travelling from Middlesbrough, that we needed a local powerchair football club here too.
We wanted local disabled people to be able to experience the freedom of playing powerchair football independently too. The buzz we all get when a player scores or saves a goal. The warm feeling inside when a young player arrives who is losing the ability to walk, due to a muscle wasting condition, and they realise there is an exciting sport for them or a young player arrives having never been able to move independently before and we manage to get them set up in a safe powerchair football chair and moving for the first time; it makes all the hours of behind the scenes work totally worth it!
What impact has this activity had on its participants?
Powerchair football is a way of life. Our club has grown from strength to strength and as well as providing football for all people with a severe disability we also provide support for players and their families.
Playing powerchair football means our players have the opportunity to participate in a fast paced team sport, to compete in regional and national leagues against other teams as well as achieve what lots of our players and their families thought was impossible… to play competitive football!
It is often the only time our players meet up with other people in a similar situation to themselves. Our players learn empathy, care and great listening skills alongside their football skills, transferable skills they will use in their everyday lives. Powerchair football really is a life changer.
Do you have any comments on the progress of the sessions?
Coaching powerchair football has enabled me to massively improve my coaching skills, especially completing the FA Level One in Coaching course, which I learned so much from.
It was also great to create more awareness of powerchair football with the other mainstream football coaches on the same course.
I absolutely love coaching powerchair football, I don’t suppose I’d put all the hours in if I didn’t! The amazing proud feeling of a player completing a skill they thought they never would, when they score that match changing goal, save an important shot, drive a powerchair which their parents couldn’t believe they would, learn the laws of the game so they can fully participate in a game…it’s all just brilliant.
If you would like to find out more about Middlesbrough Powerchair Football Club please contact them via - firstname.lastname@example.org