"I was apprehensive to begin with and found the course quite challenging at the time. But I’m so happy I did it."
Ever since she was little, Saskia Granville has loved football. Now, she doesn’t just play the game, Sas is coaching it too – all thanks to the BT Playmaker by England Football course.
“Sas has never let the physical difficulties that come with cerebral palsy stop her from playing football,” explains Bobbie Granville, Saskia’s mum. “It’s phenomenal and gives her such a sense of freedom and achievement!”
Football has always played a big part in Sas’ life. As a child, she played for the Brighton & Hove Disability team. As an adult, she joined Brighton LBGT+ Sports Society – or BLAGSS for short.
It was Sas’ BLAGSS coach, Justine Thomson who suggested she sign up for BT Playmaker.
Once she was all set up, Sas was supported by Sharon Muxworthy, The FA's South East Women and Girls Coach Development Officer.
Speaking on how Sas found out about the course, Sharon explained: “Justine (Thomson) informed me that Sas was quite interested in doing the BT Playmaker course. I thought it was a brilliant idea! So I helped Sas to complete the course over three weeks."
Taking on the course was a little nerve-wracking. But thanks to Sharon and Justine's support, Sas was able to move from the sidelines to the centre field with confidence.
Now, after volunteering for a few months and planning sessions, Sas takes everything in her stride: “I was apprehensive to begin with and found the course quite challenging at the time. But I’m so happy I did it. For me, it’s about making sure everyone has fun!"
After she completed the course, Sharon and Sas teamed up to plan a session together. Following this, Pam Chandler, who works as an FA Coach Mentor, helped them to transfer that learning to the pitch.
“I worked with Sas to help show what it looks like in real life when you've got 10-15 kids with you. It’s also about how to work with the coach, so you've got that support and you're not there on your own, panicking,” Pam explains.
Keen to keep up her newfound skills, Pam and Sharon approached Worthing Town Football Club, a strong community club celebrated for its inclusive environment, to see if they’d be happy for Sas to join them and support her as a coach. They were thrilled to have Sas on board.
She started with the Under 10s girls’ team, and now she’s just moved on to support the Weetabix Wildcats’ sessions – delivering a fun and safe introduction to football for girls aged 5-11.
Since she joined Worthing Town FC, Sas’ confidence has grown off the pitch too. She is now working part-time in a charity shop, and travels independently to and from Brighton and Worthing, something her mum says is all tied up with achieving a milestone. And Sas agrees.
“My confidence just keeps boosting up and up! And I want to show people with a disability that they can do it. Don’t give up – keep trying and you will get there. The best thing is, the Playmaker course seems to be just the beginning!"
So, watch this space!
About BT Playmaker by England Football
BT Playmaker by England Football is an entry-level course for volunteers and is perfect for anyone interested in lending a hand in grassroots football. You could play a more active role at your child’s club, help a lead coach plan out the training sessions for your school, college or university team, or perhaps you love walking football and want to add some new skills to help improve everyone’s experience. There is something for everyone.
As Sharon Muxworthy says, “It's a really inclusive and accessible course, because you can do it on a phone or on an iPad. It’s totally free and, no matter how busy you are, you can fit it in whenever is best for you.”
To do the course, you just need a laptop, mobile or tablet, and the enthusiasm and commitment to play a more active role in grassroots football.
Find out more about BT Playmaker and where it could take you today.