Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Call me Coach…

After a 35-hour course and assessment at the end, I can now officially announce that I am a certified FA Level 1 Football Coach. That basically means I am now qualified and equipped to teach children up to 16 years old everything they need to know about the beautiful game. I’m quite ambitious and have mentioned before that I would like to climb the management ladder in the adult leagues with my realistic aim being Conference level eventually. However before I can even think about doing Level 2 and progressing further, I want to gain some coaching experience by developing those who are the future.

The main issue I’m currently wrestling with in my head is how I would be able to overcome adverse weather conditions and get across a muddy field for example. One solution would be to coach a Futsal team (basically an indoor version of the game with 5 players on each side) so I’ve contacted the Herts FA to see what their advice is and I’m currently waiting for their response. Also, I’m not sure what age group to begin with. Under 8’s won’t listen or want to learn whereas most teenagers are moody know it all’s so 9/10/11 year olds might be best.

People who know me and have heard me speak will be curious as to how I am able to give out clear instructions. I didn’t actually think it would be an issue until the course. To be honest, I thought people might pay attention more as they’d have to concentrate on my voice to hear. It was okay when the group were in a close semi circle but it became difficult for them to hear me out on the pitch. I realised that I would need a whistle to start/stop the drill and maintain a level of control. It also became apparent that I would need an assistant coach to set up, do any shouting that may be required and perform demonstrations to illustrate training exercises.

It soon became clear from the course that the FA is doing everything in it’s power to improve player development in grassroots football. The common misconception is that old school defensive tactics are still being used but I’m pleased to say they are not encouraged (unfortunately some managers think negative football works). Both Spain and Germany have proved that if the children are taught the correct methods from an early age, the National Team will bear the fruits in the future. Germany began a similar overhaul in 2001 and won the World Cup 13 years later so maybe England will be successful in 2026.

Anyway, I’m just eager to begin and put what I’ve learnt into practice. It’s one thing reading about how to be a coach, answering questions in a workbook, watching a couple of DVD’s and completing an assessed session but none of it feels real. I’m desperate to get a team and get them playing how I think football should be played (none of this Jose Mourinho rubbish). I also want to learn off other coaches so now watch Arsenal warming up before the match with added interest.

Bye for now! 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Fame at last (sort of)…

I have mentioned on here before that I listen to Richard Bacon on the radio (some might say that’s quite sad). Believe it or not, I don’t have the time to listen to the live 2-hour afternoon show and download the Daily Bacon podcast to hear the best bits. Richard recorded his final podcast yesterday though and is now going to work predominantly in America so I’m going to have to find a new podcast to assist with my procrastination. He wanted us regular listeners to e-mail in before the final programme so I decided to send a brief message in.

What I wrote was quite cringe worthy (you can listen below) but Richard read out my letter on the penultimate Daily Bacon thus illustrating that flattery and brownnosing does indeed work. You know what I’m like when it comes to promoting the blog so I mentioned the site in case anyone heard and was interested. I haven’t got a flood of new readers yet as I was hoping but even if I have made one person less ignorant about disability, I’m happy. I doubt it but if Richard does read this, thank you for helping to spread the word of ‘Wheelchair Boy’,

Anyone who is new will look at my recent posts and think that I am an infrequent blogger. While this might be true of late, I normally attempt to write on here about 3 times a week (sometimes more) but learning to be a football coach, fulfilling other writing commitments and supporting the Arsenal means fitting in the blog is sometimes impossible. I’ve also been ill which limits my brainpower and makes my writing not up to the usual standard. Hopefully the book will make my absence worth it so be patient (very, next summer perhaps). 

To hear my E-Mail being read out, please click the link (http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/dailybacon) and skip to 29:30 on the podcast titled ‘Toby Jones’.

Bye for now!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Back to school…

I’ve had a touch of man flu over the past week or so but I didn’t let a stuffy head stop me from getting to see my beloved Arsenal on Saturday. The only time I would miss a game that I had tickets to would be if I was in hospital and the doctor ordered me not to go (like when I missed a Champions League match in 2012 because I was in Hillingdon Hospital with heart trouble).  My family therefore urged me to have a much-needed rest on Sunday and concentrate on getting better. That was never going to happen though as I had my first football coaching course to attend.

I had been excited ever since I booked a place on the FA 1st4sport Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Football and my imagination had run wild with dreams of managing at the highest level (what’s the point in trying something if you have no ambitions). I was under no illusion that I’d have to start coaching kids at grassroots level before I could even begin to think about taking to the adult game but I felt a tad inexperienced to say the least when I first entered the classroom. Most of the people on the course were already coaching teams and wanted the qualification to help them improve.

However, I soon realised that wasn’t a problem as I was just taking an alternative route; Doing the course and then becoming a coach instead of the other way around. I have still got three classes left before the assessment but the comparisons with school do not end there. I have been given a huge folder with sheets to fill in and information to read. We were also assigned some homework tasks (hence why I have been lapse on the blogging front) as well as being encouraged to learn more by going online, reading the handbooks and watching the DVD’s provided.

Right, Aston Villa away tomorrow for Arsenal and then another long day on Sunday to learn more about how to be a coach.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Putting my money where my mouth is…

As you all know, I’m quite opinionated about many subjects but particularly forthright when it comes to football. That being said, I have nothing to back up my knowledge of the beautiful game with and people no doubt question how I can ever be right on football because I don’t even play. That’s why I have decided to start doing my coaching badges so that I have certificates to show that I have been on courses and studied the sport I am so passionate about. I’m not doing it just to show off in arguments though. I want to go into coaching and maybe one day manage a team.

From an early age, I wanted to get into football professionally and grow up to be a top player for the Arsenal like my boyhood hero Dennis Bergkamp. However when I discovered I had Friedreich’s Ataxia aged 9, that dream obviously died. It soon became apparent that I was a fairly good writer (please don’t take that as arrogance) so I ended up thinking that sports journalism was another way into football. I then realised I do not enjoy/find it difficult to be impartial so gave up on that career path. I now want to try and do what no wheelchair user has done in the history of professional football, manage a team of able-bodied players.

I have never coached before so my ambition of being the next Arsene Wenger is a long way off but you’ve got to aim high in life to achieve your goals. I might be rubbish at it and fail my assessment but it’s surely worth a try. The course begins on Sunday and consists of four tutorials followed by an assessment so hopefully by the end of September; I won’t just be a ‘Wheelchair Boy’. All going well I’ll have completed the FA 1st4sport Level 1 Certificate in Coaching Football and will have that by name (a bit like how teachers show off their achievements).

Bye for now!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Not really accessible...

It’s fair to say that, what with my dad and his three brothers all having taxi licenses, I have grown up believing that London black cabs are the best mode of transport in the world. However, I have since discovered from using a wheelchair full time that this is not true. I don’t want to take jobs off my family so by all means please use them if you’re able bodied. I’m just reiterating the point (I’ve said it before: http://theadventuresofwheelchairboy.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/more-taxi-problems.html) that taxis are not accessible in the real meaning of the word and are far from suitable for wheelchair users.

I mean the only way that there would not be a problem is if the person is below 4 foot in height when sitting down (otherwise you have to crane your neck for the whole journey) and has a small, compact wheelchair. Definitely cannot fit an electric chair in, especially if there are other passengers such as a carer. Even then, you need to find the rarest breed of cab driver. One that is not completely bone idle and is not afraid to help others. As you can imagine, I’ve met a few in my time and most just cannot be bothered with a disabled passenger.

The majority of drivers are reluctant to pick a wheelchair up in the first place because getting a ramp out requires effort and taxi driving is all about earning money without raising a finger (I suppose that’s why I’m quite lazy). For example, I knew about the difficulties in a standard cab so when I went to visit Madame Tussauds earlier in the year, I went over to a Mercedes Vito as I thought it would be easier. The driver told me to go and wait at the rank before driving off. The same happened in St. Albans: the driver took one look at my wheelchair and made up some excuse about why he couldn’t take me.

On both occasions, the person who did eventually take me did not bother to strap me in securely. OK, it was not far but you’d still wear a seatbelt on a short car journey so the same should apply to clamping a wheelchair. Like I said though, cab drivers are extremely lazy so I suppose I am lucky when one picks me up, let alone bothering to strap me in.   

My main message (apart from slagging off taxi drivers) is that service providers, whether that be Transport For London or local councils, will claim that all taxis with ramps are wheelchair accessible but as I’ve explained, they’re simply not. The website http://www.cabdirect.com demonstrates my point. Cab Direct sells thousands of new and used taxis but the fact it has a specialist section for wheelchair accessible vehicles shows that most taxis are not in fact wheelchair friendly.

Bye for now!

Monday, 8 September 2014

National Paralympic Day…

Returning to the scene of the triumphant Team GB!
Can you believe that two years ago tomorrow (9th September), the London 2012 Paralympic Games came to an end? Neither can I. Time truly does fly by. The British Paralympic Association have been keen to maintain the legacy ever since the closing ceremony so with the support of Spirit, have set out plans to have a National Paralympic Day every year. This was the second annual #NPD and I’ve got to admit, I wasn’t aware of the event until I was invited to attend as a VIP. I’m guessing you didn’t know about this either until today.

As you can probably work out, the day was a celebration of disability sport and I had a brilliant time. A swimming competition, which saw Team GB eventually beat Team Europe, gave me an opportunity to visit the impressive Aquatics Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (I only got to see the Copperbox Arena in 2012). I then mingled in the VIP area with the Royal Patron of the British Paralympic Association A.K.A. HRH The Prince Edward. I am not a royalist and know that he is just a man but it was still extremely surreal.

The day was not just about spectating and hobnobbing with royalty. There were also various Paralympic sports available to try including Wheelchair Rugby, Cycling and many more. Unfortunately, I missed the professional’s playing what turned out to be a tense Boccia match in the Copperbox as I decided to have a game or two outside (my throws were a bit rusty as I haven’t played in ages). I did get to watch the Goalball where the Team GB girls came from 5-2 down to win 7-5. There was also another swimming session and basketball match but I sadly had to leave.

I would definitely encourage all my readers to go to National Paralympic Day next year, disabled or not. That’s the great thing. Everyone can enjoy watching Paralympic sports and be inspired. Obviously, able bodied people cannot compete in disabled sport but you might want to try it and will soon  realise that  playing basketball in a wheelchair for example is not as easy as the athletes make it look. I am aware that not all of my readers are from London so I’m pleased to say there were similar events in Liverpool and Birmingham.

If you don’t want to pay for tickets or have no real interest in watching sports (I know that young children might get bored), the other highlight of the day is the Mayor of London’s Liberty Festival. This eclectic mix of deaf and disabled arts will keep the whole family entertained. There’s everything from live music to street theatre to dance. What more could you want for free?

Channel 4, who provided brilliant coverage of the actual Paralympic Games back in 2012, put together a highlights package to showcase the day. It was shown at 8.30 yesterday morning so was obviously too early for me. Luckily though, you can watch it on 4OD by clicking on this link: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/national-paralympics-day/4od#3752282 (look out for my mother and I at 00:31).

Bye for now!

I'm very important don't you know?

Team GB done well in the pool.

Had to turn phone off during the Goalball match.