Jon Whittingham

JW Sports Consultancy

I have worked in disability sport, and particularly across the FA disability talent pathway, for ten years supporting a number of England impairment squads including the two Paralympic disciplines of cerebral palsy and blind as well as the learning disability team.

Having worked with and for the FA in a variety of roles from England teams to the Regional Talent Centre programmes, I have supported in the identification, confirmation and development of players into the talent structures.

Alongside this, I currently deliver on a range of coach education courses to support with upskilling the coaching workforce and deliver lectures to and for universities on coaching within disability sport. I have also delivered courses oversees, such as in Burkina Faso, to help with developing coach awareness and practice when working with disabled players. I additionally support the development of grassroots opportunities through my work for the English Federation of Disability Sport.

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Experiences of working within Paralympic and England elite disability football

The profile of disability sport has risen greatly over the last few years, thanks in part to events such as the London 2012 Paralympics and increased commercial exposure of athletes. According to participation figures from Sport England, disability football is the 7th largest team game in England in its own right. The expansion in playing numbers supports a Disability Player Pathway, including a number of talent programmes and England impairment squads.

This seminar will give an insight to the diverse and challenge world of elite disability football, covering the successes and challenges of working in this environment from working on the pitch to dealing with international federations to identifying players within the impairment classification framework. An overview of the current talent structure will be discussed along with the support mechanisms in place to support the game.