Saturday, September 17, 2011

British man becomes 'first blind rugby league coach'

From BBC News:

A Sheffield man has become England's first qualified blind rugby league coach, according to the Rugby Football League.

Ben Noble, from Shiregreen, has been working with Sheffield Eagles to complete level one of his coaching qualification.

The RFL said Mr Noble was the first blind person to pass the coaching certificate in its history.

Mr Noble said: "It's been a lot of hard work but it's been worth it."

As part of his training to become a coach, Mr Noble has been training with the Sheffield Eagles youth team.

Dean Thomas, head of youth at the club, said Mr Noble's desire to learn had inspired some of the young people he had worked with.

"When these 15 and 17-year-olds feel they are going through adversity and training is tough, we get them to work with Ben," he said.

"He brings realism to what we do. His character and determination is what we look for in our players."

As Mr Noble can only distinguish the difference between light and dark he relies on assistance from his support worker Stacey Darby.

Ms Darby acts as "Ben's eyes" and works alongside him, including describing what is happening on the pitch.

Sheffield Eagles said last year it had worked with 10,000 people in the community and was now looking to involve Ben with further outreach work.

"It gives people a great opportunity to think 'you can do this, you can overcome these barriers'," Mr Thomas said.

"Over the next 12 months, we'll be going to schools more and working with people with disadvantages and disabilities. Hopefully we can do more in the community, as well as mentor our elite young athletes."

Despite not being able to see, Mr Noble said the youths he mentors "don't get away with anything".

Now the 25-year-old coach is looking to complete his level two coaching certificate, which is a recognised national qualification through the Rugby Football League.