Everyday Heroes: Emma O'Connor

Emma O'ConnorEmma was injured playing football while at university. The club she was playing for at the time paid for her to take her Level 1 coaching badge, and since then, she hasn’t looked back. Having been involved in sport for some time as a volunteer at a number of football clubs, she began to earn some paid work coaching disability sports for Chelsea.

This escalated over time. As Emma says, ‘Once you get a good rep, you don’t really apply for jobs as a coach, you get a good recommendation,’ and she now works full-time as a coach, spending half her time as a football coach for AFC Wimbledon and Panathlon Challenge and the rest coaching disability sports.

Emma loves coaching and being able to help others.

‘As a coach, you’re a teacher, and I’m really passionate about sport so I want others to enjoy it too.

‘Getting a response from a participant is what I love to see. I want someone to take part in a session and enjoy it, getting information from me. I am focused on the participant and it being their session and what they want to learn. I care, and I’m passionate, and I want other people to be as well.

‘I coach a number of sports, not just football – handball, Boccia, tennis. A lot of sports work together well. It’s all about being prepared and having a session plan, being creative and always having a plan B, C and D! Planning is the most important thing but also being prepared to change if need be.

‘To me, coaching is about helping with confidence and self-esteem, but it is also about breaking down the barriers so more people can get involved. I’m all about finding a problem and thinking of a solution.

‘Participants don’t know where they need to be going. If you have no background in sport, how do you get involved again? This is where a good coach steps up to their role.

‘I know that all my participants won’t be turning up next week, but I can still interact with them by email and keep them engaged so they may turn up again in a few months’ time.

‘I want to break down all the barriers, keep the prices down, and make it as inclusive as possible – the right coach, right location and right situation. For instance, if it is girls only, I want the whole hall so others are not watching and they can feel comfortable.

‘If you’re passionate about sport, you should get involved in coaching because you can make a difference. It’s not just within that sport either.

‘As a coach, you can make a difference in people’s lives. It might be social or it might be health. As a coach, you’re part of that, and they will remember you for years. This is always a good thing as you know you’ve made an impact on their life.’

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