A module on disability sport as part of his college course kicked off a passion for inclusion that eventually led Ryan Moignard to a job with the LFC Foundation, the charitable arm of Liverpool Football Club. Now, Ryan is heading off to Qatar to take on his biggest challenge yet.
“There were very few disabled people where I grew up so I had no experience, I was very naïve. Working in that environment was eye-opening and changed everything for me. I went on to take a disability sport path at college and based my degree around sport and inclusion.
“While I was in my third year, I was lucky enough to get a placement with Liverpool FC, working on community projects. As a Liverpool fan, seeing behind the scenes was amazing. After graduation, I stayed on as a volunteer to coach their wheelchair football team and help deliver sports projects in schools. The following year I got the job with LFC Foundation as Community Coach and Project Support and in 2011, I took over as Project Lead.
“Over the past seven years, I’ve been responsible for setting up a delivery model for kids and adults from disadvantaged communities in Liverpool to engage in sport. The sessions are for all abilities, and we make sure the activities are adaptable so that anyone with any impairment can join in. This model has now been replicated in other sports organisations in the UK, which makes me very proud.
“Working in this area is so rewarding. It’s great to see the kids come on and grow in confidence. I remember one boy who had sensory issues wouldn’t even come into the hall in his first session. We helped him work up to five minutes, then ten, until he was happy to stay for the whole hour. That was a massive leap for him. To me, that’s as big an achievement as some of the kids who have gone on to play football competitively.
“I first went to Qatar to help implement a similar scheme for disabled young people over there. We adapted the scheme to suit the Qataris and trained coaches to work with disabled children in schools. They now deliver regular sessions to ensure disabled children are not excluded from playing sport anymore. This project led to a job offer from the Qatar Foundation to support its work around inclusion as part of the World Cup 2022 legacy.
“The job is as much about educating communities about disability as it is about football. It’s about helping Qatar become a more inclusive society through sport. In the long-term, I’m aiming to establish a framework to roll out accessible football activities across the whole country to give more children with limited opportunities the chance to play sport. If I’m fortunate enough I’d love to eventually take the scheme to other parts of the world.”
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