Oliver D’Souza from Mumbai becomes India’s First Wheelchair-Bound Professional Football Coach


Oliver D'Souza
Oliver D'Souza

Oliver D’Souza, from Mumbai, has become the first ever wheelchair-bound qualified football coach in the country after earning his AIFF-D license coaching certificate and would be eligible to coach in schools and at the grassroot level.

“I am very happy that I have cleared the course. It was a long wait but nevertheless a sweet one. With passing the course there is an added responsibility on my shoulders,” D’Souza said after receiving his certificate this month.

The 32-year-old, broke his spinal cord a decade ago in a freak accident while trying to fetch a football from a roof of a building. After the devastating incident, Oliver lost all hope, but his love for football kept him going. After facing rejections from a few coaches, he then came across a story where Manchester United had hired a wheelchair bound football coach named Sohail Rehman for able-bodied players. “That story really inspired me. When I heard about the course I was like why not? If I get a license at least people will give me an opportunity. I can’t be in my bedroom and tell people what to do. If others can, there is no reason why I can’t do,” he said.

D’Souza then approached Western India Football Association (WIFA) for the AIFF-D license course, which had no separate section for handicap candidates. “I met WIFA CEO Henry Menezes and they were very cooperative. Seeing my enthusiasm and passion they said they need to get All India Football Federation (AIFF) permission for the same as the course had 60 theory and 70 practical. Soon I got a confirmation mail from WIFA of my inclusion in the course. There was also a line in the mail that I won’t be charged any fees for the same,” said D’Souza,

“ In near future, my aim is to take up a professional team. But I would make my way through the ladder. I believe in hard work and that is what I want to take it ahead,” he concluded.

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