Wes Brown poses for a selfie with a young Manchester United Foundation powerchair player

Powerchair players achieve FA qualifications

Monday 01 March 2021 17:30

Through its disability and inclusion programme, Manchester United Foundation manages a powerchair football team in partnership with Sale United Powerchair FC, to promote football opportunities for wheelchair users of all ages.

Powerchair football consists of a team of four players using specialised electric wheelchairs with a large front bumper to control and hit an oversized heavy football to score goals. Over the years the team has been supported by United players including Eric Bailly and club legends such as Wes Brown.

The team usually trains every week and regularly competes in the West Midlands Regional League and the Muscular Dystrophy UK National Premiership. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the training session and games have been put on hold for over 12 months.

During this period, 14 participants from various projects across the Foundation put their time to good use by undertaking the FA Playmaker course in January 2021, including four participants from the powerchair football team.

The FA Playmaker is an entry-level football course for people wanting to take a more active role in grassroots football, offering coaches and volunteers the confidence and skills required to start their coaching pathway.
Reds defender Eric Bailly helped to launch MU Foundation's powerchair team.
The powerchair players were supported through the four-week course by disability and inclusion coordinator Matt Pilkington, who said: “The powerchair players have not been able to access their football sessions for over a year so it was a brilliant opportunity to offer them a qualification during these uncertain times and a chance to enjoy the behind-the-scenes aspects of football, which they may not have taken note of previously. 

“The FA Playmaker course is a fantastic course for aspiring coaches and the Foundation’s aim was to help our participants use real-life experiences to complete the course.”

All four participants said the course improved their confidence and self-esteem and gave them an idea of their future coaching pathway.
Liam, 20, has been training and playing for the Sale United powerchair team for over 10 years. He said: “I enjoyed learning about the different considerations and requirements for running a training session and what the ins and outs of football are like for coaches, players and spectators.”

Lewis, 17, has been with the team for three years. He said: “It was interesting to learn about all the aspects of coaching and player welfare; it will be a great help towards my sports study course at college, which I will be starting in September. I aspire to be a football coach.”

Paul Kelly, who coaches the powerchair team and whose son also attends the sessions and completed the Playmaker course, said: “I was impressed with the course and it will have given the players extra confidence and a better insight into behind-the-scenes of coaching grassroots football. I'm sure they'll look forward to sharing their experience with other players when we get back to training and playing.”

Throughout the three England lockdown periods, 142 young people from different Manchester United Foundation projects have achieved the FA Playmaker qualification. Find out more here.