Sara Hayles first walked into the Aston Villa Foundation’s disability football programme two years ago.
And her transformation from a shy person attending her first Ability Counts session to becoming a confident, outgoing and personable FA Level One qualified coach has been documented in a short film that premieres on BT Sport’s Premier League Tonight show at 8pm on Saturday.
Aston Villa star Mile Jedinak also features in the video, dropping in on a Birmingham Day Centre sports session at Villa Park to see first-hand how Sara has overcome her disabilities to pursue her dream of becoming a professional coach.
The Foundation’s Disability Football Manager, Nigel Macrow said: “From the first Friday she came in here, she was shy, she was hesitant, and we had to coax her onto the pitch.
“Now, she’s just blossomed as a person. She’s had to overcome all her barriers – her autism, her learning difficulties, she’s deaf in one ear, she has epilepsy, she suffers from asthma…
“Regardless of all that, she’s overcoming these barriers and she’s showing so much potential. Sara could easily be a role model in the women’s game, particularly the disability side because that’s her passion.”
Sara has thrived under the guidance of the Foundation’s disability coaches, and as well as playing competitively for the women’s Ability Counts team, the 24-year-old volunteers her time to coach the younger players at Villa Park on a Friday night.
In addition to telling Sara’s story, the video highlights how funding from the PLBT Sport fund has enabled the Foundation to offer sporting opportunities for a wider range of disabilities.
Disability Programmes Manager, Debbi Rawson said: “We started our BT Sport project 18 month ago – at which time, we mainly delivered our pan-disability football teams. Since then, we’ve grown our disability provision quite a lot.
“We now have a blind football team, a girls only pan-disability team and we’ve just started a cerebral palsy football team.”
For more information on the Foundation’s disability provision, email: email@example.com.