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Laurie McGinley - Overcoming Adversity

Updated: Dec 21, 2019

There are not many people who die three times and live to tell the tale, let alone become a UEFA qualified football coach...

Laurie McGinley beat the odds to recover from a life threatening illness, with the courage and strength to follow his dreams. Not only has he become a football coach and graduated from University when life was trying so hard to stop him, he has also represented his country...which is not something many people on the planet can claim.

Here's Laurie's story in his own word;

When I was 10 years old I had a traumatic Brain Injury. I had encephalitis which is meningitis of the brain, which led to me dying three times on the operating theater whist trying to relief the pressure on my brain. It's a surreal experience to say the least!

Having multiple seizures a day, there were times when I would think this can’t get any worse…but fortunate enough, I had family, friends and football as my backroom staff to support me and to help me to carry on. Getting told you will not be able to do all the stuff I should enjoy as a youngster because I was a little bit 'slower', are not easy words to take in. I still managed to watch some football and played a little PlayStation, but undertaking the simplest of tasks was a struggle and it provided difficult challenges just to live a normal daily life.

It took a long time to get back close to the way I was before my illness, with the hardest thing being frustration, due to this illness that wasn’t even my fault. As you may imagine, going back to school wasn't the easiest task due to how my overall mental state had been effected, but school got me started playing football again and I also started to understood how much I loved it. I would work as hard as I could through my school years and eventually, things started to look a little more positive.

The letter was a total shock and a huge surprise, it was a letter from the Scottish FA to say that I had been chosen to represent Scotland National Team. I phoned my Disability Officer, Stuart Sharp, just to double check it wasn't a joke – you don’t get a letter through the post to tell you that you can represent your country every day! After 4 weeks of chatting with Stuart, I made my debut for Scotland in Finland. I then scored in my next match and never looked back

This was largely made possible thanks to the support of CBIT (Child Brain Injury Trust), who helped me with my confidence whilst dealing with this experience.Through determination and grit, my next goal was to get myself to university, but needed one more higher and that was 'crash higher Spanish'. I struggled at the start, but had my speaking test on my birthday and smashed it! I wanted to get to university and knew that it would take a lot of effort and sacrifice, which I was willing to put in and eventually it paid off.

I remember going out early to get my results, as the postman was at our next door neighbors and he told me to come down. I had got the C grade I needed to get in! I worked so hard for that and it was yet another confirmation that with hard work and sacrifice, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Going to university was great and I still pursued my football – both playing and coaching. I started to coach more and worked at a few clubs where I got the chance to go on my C licence and children’s award.

My gran who had passed away gave me the money to go on these courses - so when I passed both of them I dedicated it to her. In my 2nd year at University I didn't work my hardest and ultimately failed myself after getting a low grade – it was the kick up the backside I needed to do better and raise my levels again. After this quick reset, I started to play more with the CP Scotland team and was ranked in the top 10 players in the world in 2011 but unfortunately, I missed out on the Paralympics as I wasn’t fit enough.

That was a lesson for me as I wanted to be the best, but evidently I hadn't done enough, perhaps I could have sacrificed more? I started my Advanced Children’s licence and failed it the 1st time and passed it the 2nd time round. When I failed I didn’t panic, I got the advice I needed to achieve the licence and used it to pass - failing can be the start of success. While completing my B licence, I also failed a part of it, which hit me a little harder as I was working all hours possible to achieve this, as other coaches I'm sure can relate to. Again, I was able to pass on my 2nd try and getting that behind me was a massive buzz!

Since then, I have now been a Head Coach, Football Development officer and have worked at Motherwell F.C and Glasgow Girls F.C, which has been a great start in my coaching career. I also get myself on multiple CPD events, which I will continue with as it allows me to learn from the best. When it comes to hard work and luck, you have the choice to either work hard or give up and it's not a choice to be taken lightly.... it can determine your future!

Currently as of 2019, i'm in the middle of completing my UEFA A licence and have had some constructive feedback, which helps on a great scale when it comes to my learning. I now know that even major traumatic experiences can shape your life – it just depends on what kind of mindset you have .... growth or fixed? I’ll let you decide!

Catch up with Laurie's podcast ' The Curve Mindset' and also follow him on twitter.

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