Today, we are shining the spotlight on Sam Turner, founder of Para Football - a worldwide umbrella body and network for disability football.
Name: Sam Turner
Role within club/organisation: Founder of Para Football, and CEO / Secretary General of International Federation of CP Football
Website: www.ParaFootball.com, www.ifcpf.com
Favourite football team: Manchester United.
• Can you explain a bit about your journey so far and what brought you to this point within disability football?
"I first got involved in coaching at the age of 15 and then quickly found disability football which has been my work and personal passion ever since. My working career in disability football includes Derby County Community Trust, Cerebral Palsy Sport, Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CPISRA) and now the International Federation of CP Football.
"In addition, I am an FA Coach Mentor for Disability Football, Independent Director and IAG Chair for Leicestershire FA, and a founder of Para Football as a worldwide umbrella body and network for disability football."
• Tell us a little more about your work at your club Organisation?
"In IFCPF I am the CEO / Secretary General and have oversight over the different areas of the organisation and coordinating our international tournament programme.
"For Para Football which I lead as a volunteer, we are supporting national football associations and Para Football bodies all over the world, connecting International Federations for each type of football to collaborate, and bringing greater awareness, support and development to football for persons with disabilities."
• What is the impact of your provision for people with disabilities?
"Personally I see my role is to support, elevate and guide the worldwide network of people who are doing great work every day in disability football. Majority of whom are volunteers and performing the role of football governing bodies, it is vitally important to empower them to keep growing and developing the game."
• What are the main barriers to people with disabilities engaging in football?
"Sometimes it is the perception of football or past negative experiences which put people off football or they think there are no opportunities for them to play."
"In England there are many initiatives for disability football, but often not the right support which is needed on the ground by the volunteers at the grassroots who are the driving force of the game. Coaches can often feel isolated or that they are the only one who their players can depend on, so they need greater direct support, education and sharing of good practice."
• What do you think needs to happen to make football more inclusive for all?
"Football needs to stop creating a game and telling players the box they fit into, but rather listen to them, engage and understand how they want to be included in the game. I believe in inclusion by choice, where there are various opportunities to play the game which support the inclusion of players with disabilities. Through Para Football we are working to ensure that players can choose between mainstream football, modified football like walking football or small-sided, pan-disability football or an adapted format of the game specific to player’s impairments."
• What are your plans for the future?
"We are continuing to grow the worldwide network of countries committed to #FootballForAll and at the same time increase the support available to help them deliver a truly inclusive game."
For more information on Para Football please visit website www.ParaFootball.com or contact email@example.com.