Updated: Jun 17
How can we, the BFCN community help Marcus? Marcus has a GoFundMe page, through which he is trying to raise money for a new wheelchair, which will greatly increase his mobility. As you can see from the video below, this will clearly make coaching on the muddy pitches of England significantly easier, in addition to providing many more benefits.
Name, age, where are you based?
Cheltenham, but Coventry born and bred
I had a stroke when I was eleven years old, I am partially paralysed down the left side of my body. My mum was told the day I went to hospital, “If I survived the night, I’d never ever walk or talk again” well I survived, I can walk, I can talk, AND I CAN COACH!!
Current and past Roles:
My current role in Football, I am the head coach of Leckhampton Rovers Elite U11. I have coached these since 19/20 season. I have also recently been asked to set up a men's reserve team for Leckhampton Rovers.
18/19 season I was assistant at Leckhampton Rovers All Stars.
· Level 2 in Football
· Level 2 in Wheelchair Basketball
· Btec Nat Cert in Sports Development
· 2 years of a degree in sports development, but couldn’t complete for personal reasons
How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?
I got into coaching because I was struggling to compete year in year out in Wheelchair Basketball due to the nature of my disability, and I found I had a talent in helping people to better themselves and improve their performances.
It has been a relatively steady path coaching Wheelchair Basketball, but then I have found in football, barriers pop up, to which I am still learning new things, and I have been in the wheelchair for twenty-eight years.
Do you have any major achievements? To me, everything and everyone is a major achievement, but the notable achievements, are the players that I have coached, from the start of playing careers in Wheelchair Basketball, and have gone on to represent their country. I have volunteered for many teams in both Basketball and Football and have had a degree of success. Another achievement of mine, is that I am proud to have players move to stronger teams…….it might sound strange, but as a coach, I am happy to see them progress on their pathway, and it’s a testament to my coaching, that they get “poached” so to speak by these stronger teams.
As a wheelchair basketball player, what was it like transitioning into coaching? Was it something you always wanted to do?
For me, the transition was relatively straight forward, as I got older and my disability affected how I played, I just used my knowledge, and put it to good use, as I only have the use of one arm (paralysis). I wasn’t the quickest player, but what I lacked in speed, I could read the game well. I had never ever thought, that when I started my playing career, that I’d end up being a coach, but became one and never looked back.
What was it that caused you to make the switch into football coaching?
My son started taking a keen interest in football, so I took him to all his games, and I always joked with the Chairman Enzo, that I can’t coach as I can’t walk (even though I can short distances). One day at a football presentation day, I was walking, and Enzo said to me “right that’s it, you’re doing your level 1”, which I did, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, I have since got my level 2, and working towards my UEFA B.
What are your ambitions as a football coach?
My ambitions as a coach, may sound very ambitious, but I have always been ambitious. I want to be the first coach/manager of an able bodied professional football team, here is a question for everybody reading this……… name one coach in a wheelchair, in the whole world, in ANY able bodied sport? I want to change this, I want to be a role model, where people can instantly say my name.
What are some of the biggest barriers between you and your ambitions?
Honestly…….people and organisations!!!
People are the biggest barrier, the inequality that exists is unbelievable. Big named organisations also like to preach equal opportunities, but it’s never straight forward. As a coach in a wheelchair, sometimes I find myself fighting for what I believe in, sometimes I’m fighting institutional discrimination, when the institution don’t even realise the discrimination is happening.
What are some of the difficulties and challenges that you have faced that able bodied participants in football may be unaware of?
Simple things, such as driving over a wet football pitch, if it has been constant heavy rain, and the ground can’t take anymore, I can’t get up and walk around the pitch, I risk getting bogged down. Because I love coaching, it’s my passion, another challenge, is that I can’t give my players a visual demonstration, it frustrates me that I can’t do this, so I have to adapt and explain the best I can, but I do it because I love coaching, it’s my passion.
What are some things you wish more people knew about wheelchair users in football?
Wheelchair users in football!! I don’t know of any in football, one possibly from a google (there are many other search engines too) search. I want to help in changing this, but one thing that people should know is, we are human, we can do things, just in a different way, adapt and overcome!!
What would you say are your best qualities as a coach?
That I’m a people person, I talk to my players, I talk to the parents, I’m not always perfect, nobody is, but I try my hardest, even if I’m struggling with my disability, I will put a smile on my face. I will also help out in any way that I can to guarantee that my players play the game they enjoy, and that they can talk to me if anything is bothering them.
What do you think we could change within the football community to make the game more inclusive of wheelchair users?
I think that the first thing to do, to make it more inclusive, is stop employing able bodied people to do a disabled persons role. A disabled person has more insight into things such as adaptions to make life easier, in my opinion any way. Also I think there should be a drive by the FA, to get coaches specifically in wheelchairs as coaches, they can make an issue of female coaches, BAME coaches……..nothing about disability? Isn’t that part of equality and diversity?
How accommodating have the governing bodies been for you on coaching courses?
The coaching courses have been outstanding, I can’t find one single fault, the tutors have been very accommodating, and I would personally like to thank Gary McClean, Steve Lilley and Shane Duff, for making me feel welcome and part of the group, and you are all a credit to the FA.
How do players react when they may not have been expecting to see a coach in a wheelchair?
To be honest, I’ve never had a reaction from the boys I coach, the difference between children and adults is that children are innocent and prejudice is taught.
What is something you have learned from coaching that you wish you had learned sooner?
I don’t think there is anything that I wish I had learnt sooner. The one thing I do regret is that I wish I had started coaching sooner, so that I could have gone places such as coaching abroad to gain knowledge of different cultural coaching, before I had my children.