Football at the Special Olympics World Games 2019
The Special Olympics World Games 2019 are underway in Abu Dhabi, with a Hertfordshire football coach and player representing Team GB
Just before the team flew out to the event, Hertfordshire FAs Football Development Officer for Disability, Steve Maker, caught up with Liam Dwyer, Assistant Coach for Team GB’s Men’s Football, to find out more about his role and the Special Olympics 2019.
What are the Special Olympics and what is your involvement?
My current role is Assistant Coach for Team GB’s Men’s Football. The Special Olympics World Games are an international sporting competition for athletes with intellectual disabilities, organized by the IOC-recognised Special Olympics organisation. Team GB has over 200 athletes participating from all over the UK including 11 footballers (one of which is from Hertfordshire). The World Games in Abu Dhabi are the largest sporting event of 2019.
How did you become involved in coaching the GB team?
I started coaching St Albans City Youth Men’s Disability in early 2014, since then we have developed and grown as a club but have also had success on the pitch winning in various tournaments including two national finals of the Peoples FA Cup. 3 of my players featured for Team GB Special Olympics at the Special Olympic World Games in LA in 2015.
From this I was offered to start coaching for Eastern Region in late 2015 and lead the Eastern Region Band 1 Team at the 2017 National Games in Sheffield. From there I applied for an Assistant Coach role for Team GB in late 2017, had an interview and Trial session and was successful in becoming an Assistant Coach. Working alongside the other Coaches Anth and Bobby has been Brilliant and we get on very well on and off the pitch. At present I still also coach the City Youth Disability team.
How has this role helped your development as a coach for this year’s UEFA B coaching course at Hertfordshire FA?
Since doing my Level 2 I have thoroughly enjoyed all my FA Courses I have attended through Hertfordshire FA, I was delighted to have been accepted for the UEFA B license course. However it has been a challenging (in a good way) but an enjoyable experience. I have learnt so much from the course, tutors and also my peers on the course, looking at developing playing philosophies and learning new practices has been great and hopefully I can take my learnings with me to the world games.
How has your coaching improved during this role?
Being filmed twice by Sky Sports & ITV and coaching both times at St Georges Park has made me reflect on how I coach, my style and preparation. I think the fact that I’m at the highest level for disability sport has made me develop my practices to the highest standard possible. I feel over the last 18 months to two years I have progressed significantly as a coach but this has taken a lot of hard work and commitment. Every day is a learning day and an opportunity to improve.
What are your hopes for the group at this competition?
My hope is that as a collective everybody improves as a footballer but also grows as a person and be enriched by the experience and competition. For the hard work and effort the players have put in so far I would love them to win gold, however as a coach this not essential to the overall process. All I hope is they try there hardest and enjoy the experience.
Where can we go to find out more about the games during the Special Olympics?
There will be coverage from the Team GB Special Olympics Twitter (@SOGreatBritain) and website. I’ll be posting daily updates from my own twitter account (@dwyersonfire) for those wanting to follow.
Hertfordshire FA would like to wish Liam, the football team and all the athletes representing Team GB at the Special Olympics the best of luck.
Team GB have defeated Australia 3-1 in a dramtic final and are World Champions! Congratulations!