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Villa helping Sara become a coaching role model

3 Oct 2018

How Aston Villa have used the PL/BT Disability Fund to help one autistic player go from participant to qualified coach

Disability football coach Sara Hayles has big plans for her coaching career.

"My goal is to become a professional manager and show it's not just boys that can be managers," she says.

Sara is a coach at the Aston Villa Foundation, where she gives encouragement and guidance to players on their Ability Counts programme.

Sara, who has autism, epilepsy and is partially deaf, first started as a participant on sessions with the Foundation, supported by the Premier League/BT Disability Fund, two years ago.

"From the first Friday she came in here, she was shy, she was hesitant, and we had to coax her on to the pitch," says the Foundation's disability football manager Nigel Macrow.

Coaching badges

The Foundation soon recognised her potential and with the weekly sessions having boosted her confidence, Sara was given the chance to complete her FA Level 1 and FA Coaching Disabled Footballers qualifications.

"Coaching is the best part because I like coaching kids and helping adults learn different things," she says.

"I want more girls' leagues, more girls' tournaments, and more football for girls, to go out there and show how they play football.

"I wasn't into football when I was shy. Now, it's changed my life."

Sara's development was in evidence recently when she put Villa first-team midfielder Mile Jedinak through his paces at a reaching football session.

"She has just blossomed a a person," Macrow says. "She's overcome all the barriers and she's showing so much potential.

"Sara could easily be a role model for the women's game, especially in the disability side, because that's her passion."

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