As part of our #MCRForAll spotlight month, we spoke to Disability Football Development Officer Steven Edwards to understand more about his role and get a professional insight into the opportunities that exist within Greater Manchester.
Q: What is your role and what does it entail?
I am the Disability Development Officer at Manchester FA. I’ve been in the role about 2 and a half years, which has flown by, mainly because I really enjoy it and I’m passionate about it!
My role is overseeing anything regarding disability football in the county. This includes development of new playing opportunities, sign posting for new players and promotion of initiatives, including walking football and mental health programmes, with a broader aim of getting people healthy and active.
Q: How did you get into working within disability football?
Originally, I was a Football Development Officer for Surrey FA for 9 years where I covered all areas of football development. It gave me a good lead and insight into the role football has, so I could apply this into disability sport and development when I came to Manchester FA. Coming to Manchester FA gave me a fresh area to work in, which was exciting and I really enjoy the role I do today.
Q: How important is it to provide opportunities to have a positive impact on people’s lives and what are the benefits of playing football?
I think the benefits are huge, especially at open age level as younger age groups have the opportunity to play at schools and really get into the game. Playing football helps with overall health, socialising and making friends, having fun, feeling part of a team, being in a safe environment and feeling part of something where you’re accepted regardless of your ability or disability. We often hear from parents and carers on the progress they have seen when their child has taken part in football; the benefits are endless.
The Greater Manchester Ability Counts League is a fantastic showcase for how disability football has grown in the region, with clubs from across the county entering teams into a competitive disability league. From this league, lifelong friendships have been started and hundreds of players have benefitted both physically and mentally.
Q: How can people get involved in disability football?
The starting point would be to contact myself, on firstname.lastname@example.org. We also have a mapping on the Manchester FA website where you can search for local club opportunities and there is also the FA find-a-club tool.