“I find coaching in Disability Football so much more rewarding”.

Aston Swallownest 7-a -side coach James Scally talks to the SYACL

James Scally

 Next up in our series of feature interviews with key people in and around the South Yorkshire Ability Counts League is Aston Swallownest’s James Scally, who coached the Championship team to second place in the table last season – in just their first year in the League, writes Margaret Gregory and Colin Muncie for the SYACL Website.

As you’ll read, James isn’t resting on any laurels either, but Margaret opened up their chat by asking James a little about himself.

James explained, “Aston Swallownest runs mainstream sides from Under 7’s all the way to Under 18’s. Last season, though, we started our open-age Under-7’s disability side in the SYACL Championship. I’d played in the Ability Counts League for Rotherham Dynamos, as was, and Doncaster College, which is where I studied.”

James quickly saw that he wanted to coach in Disability football, and we wondered why.

 “I had a vision of setting up my own team and coaching in my own way,” he told us. “I plan the coaching sessions really thoroughly to make sure everyone enjoys them – and improves as players.”

“Coaching in Disability Football is really important and rewarding. Just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean that they can’t be a good player,” James insisted. “It gives everyone a chance to play football.”

Asked about his achievements as a coach, James is quick to highlight last season’s SYACL 7-a-side Championship.

 “We finished second in our very first year,” he reminded us. “It was a new team – a mixed team with varying abilities, but many of the squad started to come out of their shells as the season went on. One of our team – William – started as a shy lad, with only a little confidence – but by the end of the season he’d developed really strongly as a person.”

James is a 26-year-old an FA Level 2 Qualified coach, and a Rotherham United and West Ham United supporter. He has been coaching for around five years and feels that applying a mainstream-style approach to the coaching of disability footballers is important. He is delighted to see the growth of Disability football.

“ I didn’t start playing until I was 17, before that there weren’t any opportunities to play disability football,” he explained, adding, “I coached mainstream football and had fallen out of love a little with the game; but now, I find my role as coach in disability football so much more rewarding.”

FA Disability Mentor Liam Kay has suggested to James that he take his UEFA “B” Coaching licence, but so far, he’s found the necessary FA funding “hard to come by.” (the cost before any discount is around £990, more than twice the equivalent cost in Germany).

Meantime, Aston Swallownest’s success in the SYACL last season has resulted in the club entering two sides in the 7-a-side League, and James is confident they will both do well.

“I think the ‘Red’ Championship side could go one better than last season,” he insisted. “We’ve added some new players and I’m sure we’ll do well. The ‘Blue’ team will play in Division One; they are all happy to be playing, but they will improve too.”

James is also kicking off an Under-16’s Disability Team at Aston Swallownest this season, which has its own Facebook page.

“If you are interested in joining, you can contact me through the SYACL Website contact form, or through our Facebook page” James signed off. https://www.facebook.com/AstonSwallownestJFCDisabilityTeam

We wish James and everyone at Aston Swallownest every success for the coming season, and we thank him for talking to the SYACL Website.

We will keep you posted on his journey through the coaching ladder.

Meanwhile for the last 6 weeks James has been working in sports camps for Active Fusion kids at Thorne, Edlington and Ivanhoe in Doncaster and says he has loved it and the many cards of thanks certainly echo how much the kids have enjoyed it.

A former Active Fusion apprentice and now current coach, James wants to see more people with disabilities get involved in sport.

Those who have met James know he is a down-to-earth man who wants to give people opportunities in life to try new things. He has faced his own setbacks and knows the challenges facing people with disabilities. 

Hopefully, when lockdown restrictions ease, you can see James and his players on Matchdays at Concord Sports Centre in Sheffield.

 The South Yorkshire Ability Counts League features three pan-disability Leagues who play their fixtures at Concord Sports Centre, and three Leagues of participants with mild to moderate learning difficulties, including autism, who play alternately at Goals Doncaster and Goals Sheffield.

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