A PASSIONATE Coalville football coach has been named as an ‘Activities Hero’, after setting up an inclusive team in the town to make sure children with additional needs don’t miss out on playing the ‘beautiful game.’
Shaun Culpin, 50, has been involved at Coalville Town Football Club for the past seven years, both as a coach and a player.
However, last September he set up an ‘Inclusive Team’ at the club in Owen Street, so that children with additional needs can enjoy playing football, like others of their age.
He decided to take on the challenge after his own 12-year-old son Alfie, who has Autism and ADHD, struggled to take part in training sessions.
“We took Alfie to a soccer camp and after three hours, they called us to come and pick him up,” he told Pukaar News.
“Because of his conditions, he struggled to cope and found it too overwhelming. We were also told that there weren’t enough coaches to give him the attention he needed,” he revealed.
“Obviously my heart sank for Alfie because he loves football and we’re both Leicester City season ticket holders.
“I thought, if Alfie’s missing out, there must be so many other children who are missing out too, and that’s when I thought about setting up an inclusive team at Coalville Town.”
Together with eight coaches, Shaun now runs inclusive sessions every Tuesday at 5pm for children with additional needs.
Twenty-five children from across Leicestershire currently attend the sessions, which take place at the 3G pitch at Coalville’s Newbridge High School. Children who take part, include those with conditions such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy and Down’s Syndrome.
Mr Culpin says that running the sessions is the most rewarding thing he’s done during his career at Coalville Town, which has saw him play as a veteran, manage various teams and scout for female footballing talent.
“All of the children go home with a huge smile on their face and the parents are so grateful to have somewhere to take their children, where they can relax and see them having fun,” he said.
“That means everything to me because I know what it feels like as a parent, when you’re anxious about taking your child anywhere for fear of failure and things not working out.
“I’ve had so many parents tell me that the team has helped bring their child out of their shell and that just makes everything worthwhile.”
Earlier this week, Mr Culpin was named as an ‘Activity Hero’ by North West Leicestershire District Council, who praised his attitude to inclusivity, alongside his passion for football.
To find out more about the team, contact Mr Culpin via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Louise Steel