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STRAIGHT TO WORK FOR MICHAEL – A DAY IN THE LIFE

Most people go for coffees and porridge on their way into the office, but, for me, it is straight to the desk once the water bottle is filled up. We have a team of three in the Saints Ability department. We work with children and adults with disabilities to get them involved with Saints Foundation’s activities, including football and a host of other sports. There should be no boundaries for anyone who wants to play sport and this is a mantra that we work to.

We have to be in constant communication to keep ahead of things.

We start with a catch up, finding out about new people who are interested in our programme or about staffing for sessions. We always like to make sure that our participants are at the heart of what we do, so we make time to talk about them and their needs as well.

Like any office job, there are emails to catch up on, and after that it’s off to deliver sessions. I don’t like to be unprepared, so I always make sure I have a plan to follow. We have to consider the needs of our individuals. We work with such a broad range of people including those with CP, visual and hearing impairments, as well as people living with autism and cognitive disabilities.

To do this we build a rapport so we know how they work and what makes them tick. It’s really important that we are clear in how we speak and communicate with them. We all use our bodies to portray our coaching, all of these extra things – including simple signing – can really enhance what we do and mean our participants get the most from every session.

Our participants vary from real football lovers to those who are complete novices. So, we have to make sure we are inclusive with our sessions. We have to cater for all and when I see all of them taking part, it’s a great feeling. I’ve always been drawn to those on the fringes of the sessions and I see it as a great success to get them moving and involved.

After a morning out in the community, it’s back to St Mary’s Stadium for a bit of time behind the computer. We are always developing new ideas and projects. One, for me, that I really enjoy working on is the Pan-Disability League. We run this Hampshire wide competition and its great fun to see those who don’t always have access to mainstream football competing and having fun.

We are always trying to get more people involved in the league, as well as all of our projects, so we look to improve all of our inclusion projects and make sure that we continue to evolve as a team.

Work done, lunch over, I will head out to another project to make sure our coaches are completing what we set them. It’s great to see the impact that we are having from a different viewpoint and I love working to develop our coaches, seeing people involved and enjoying what we coach.

The most rewarding thing for me is that we are able to give football sessions to those that can’t always access it.

It’s a hard-to-reach audience and the sport should be for everyone. What we do is a bit different, but seeing happy faces and feeling that appreciation makes all the hard work worth it.

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