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Recently, Year 1 Sport and Physical Activity student and aspiring football coach, Max, had the opportunity to complete work experience with the Team GB Special Olympic team in their preparations for the Special Olympic World Games.

Over 7000 athletes from 190 countries compete in the Special Olympics, which is a tournament for individuals with varying intellectual impairments. Within the games, there are unified teams that are made up of a mixture of players with and without intellectual impairments.

Max worked with the Team GB Unified Football Team as an assistant coach during their final preparations at their training camp at the National Football Centre, St George’s Park. He helped set up training sessions and offered advice to the players. During his time on the camp, the team were visited by current England Manager, Gareth Southgate, former England and Team GB Manager, Stuart Pearce, and current Scotland Manager, Steve Clarke.

“The whole experience was so good”, said Max, “Working with people from different backgrounds and with varying needs was great because it gave me the opportunity to adapt my coaching style. I have had experience with this on my course already and I know that everyone needs a slightly different approach. One of my favourite parts was using the facilities at St George’s Park because I’ve never experienced anything like it before, and meeting Gareth Southgate was just completely surreal!”.

Sport Lecturer, Ross Langworthy, said “Gaining first-hand industry experience is an expectation of all our Sport and Physical Activity students, in order to give them an upper-hand in pursing careers in a competitive industry. This incredible opportunity has seen Max draw upon many skills he has developed on the course so far, as all of our students have delivered multiple sporting events to varying groups throughout the year, which has challenged their communication and leadership skills.

Working with an adult team, made up of players both with and without intellectual impairments was a great way for Max to practice adapting his communication methods, to ensure he was communicating effectively with everyone in the team. The icing on the cake for Max will have been working with international football coaches and delivering sessions with them observing him. This truly unique experience has helped Max develop important soft skills and gain an insight into the planning and delivery of training camps, which will aid both his studies and his pursuit of a career in the sports industry.”

The Special Olympic World Games started on 17th June in Berlin, and the Team GB Unified Football Team won Bronze.

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