In 2017, Ross and James participated in our Tandem Education in Belfast, Northern Ireland. They both gained tremendously from the training and the reciprocal nature of the learning that we promote. Read their story to discover how the FCSA disability football programme helped shape their journey as coaches.


The Tandem Education was established to promote equal opportunities for youth and young adults with a disability to move into football coaching. During the education programme one participant with a disability (Young Coach) will link up with one participant without a disability (Tandem Partner) to form a ‘Tandem’. During the training, they will support each other to complete various tasks associated with delivering a disability football session. Having completed the Tandem Education with different partners in Belfast, Ross and James teamed-up as a Tandem at the Special Youth Camp in Basel.

The combined experience of the Tandem Education and the Special Youth Camp has given Ross the self-confidence and knowledge to move into coaching disability football. Whilst James was already involved in coaching a mainstream team, he would now like to get more involved in disability football too. Their story highlights how the Tandem approach is beneficial to all involved.

Ross and James

Project: Switzerland / Germany / United Kingdom, June-July 2017

Nominating club / association: Irish Football Association

Project Switzerland / Germany / United Kingdom | Facts
Peer Young Coaches
Benefiting Children


James (Tandem Partner): I think Ross has come a long way from the person who arrived at the education programme in Belfast. At the beginning of the course he was very timid and hardly spoke, and now you see him delivering football sessions with confidence. I am really proud of him.

Ross (Young Coach): The first day of the training in Belfast I was maybe not so confident but over the last couple of days I think I smashed it, as I got that extra help and I really appreciated that.

James: I think the Tandem aspect gave Ross the confidence as he knew that there was someone there to support him, he wasn’t alone.

Ross: Having the support of James here in Basel has really helped. Without him I do not think I would have been able to do it. He provides support and encouragement and I am able to learn a lot from him.

James: Working with Ross has taught me a lot about disability. We have both been able to benefit from the experience.

Ross: The training [in Belfast] may not have given me a [coaching] badge, but it has given me the confidence to teach kids. I am now coaching a Down’s Syndrome team once a week. It has not been easy for me growing up, as I have always been told “you can’t do it” – but I have shown that I can.

James: The programme has been really beneficial for me too. It has opened my eyes to a new area of coaching. Working as a Tandem we can learn from each other. I coach for a mainstream team and after this experience I realise that this is the area I want to work. Seeing the impact that you can have on these kids is what it is all about – it really is special.

Ross: Having the opportunity to come to Basel feels like a dream come true, it really does. The highlight of my week has been wearing the Northern Ireland kit. If anyone is given this opportunity, take it. It’s been the best thing I’ve done in a long time.

Gallery Ross and James

Young Coaches

Our Young Coaches are community leaders and role models in less privileged societies. They commit themselves to support the children of their communities by conveying important social topics (conflict resolution, inclusion, HIV prevention, etc.) through football. Each of the Young Coaches represents a unique personal story.