Bubbly, talkative and infectious, former WLC Sports & Fitness student Caoimhe Patterson is doing big things for disability football at the London Tigers Football Club
Caoimhe Patterson’s love of playing, coaching and expanding access to football runs deep. Her experiences living with dyslexia and dyspraxia - a condition affecting fine motor skills and communication have not always made things easy, but her drive, determination and work ethic have made great things possible.
Originally from Greenford, it was her difficulties with communication which led Caoimhe to St Catherine's on the Isle of Wight, a specialist school designed to help students with speech and language needs. It was on the island she got her first real start with playing and coaching with the Vectis Blue Disability Football Club - a club she still gives back to through coaching work with when she can.
“I’d always wanted to study sport” Caoimhe explains “And after I left St Catherine’s I really wanted to go into a mainstream school”. These two goals came together at Ealing, Hammersmith & West London’s College where Caoimhe registered for a Level 1 BTEC in Sport and Active Leisure while regularly playing and volunteering at Queens Park Rangers.
The move to College proved a big step up, but through one on ones with staff and help from the Additional Learning Support team, Caoimhe was successful with her first year of studies.
“Additional Learning Support were a big help, I wouldn’t have been able to cope without them” she says. “At the end of the year I was just happy to finish. I was surprised when I passed!”
Despite giving all the credit to College staff, her tutors however are very quick to turn her praise around.
“Caoimhe puts 150% into everything she does. She’s really one in a million” says Sports & Fitness Tutor Liam Wild.
Fellow tutor Miguel de Souza echos this sentiment. “It was really pleasing to see a such a success story in just my second year of teaching” Miguel says. “Caoimhe has such a selfless side and so much foresight, taking any opportunity to promote disability football”.
Caoimhe’s exceptional work at QPR was acknowledged following her second year when she picked up the Adult Volunteer of the Year prize at the 2015 Hammersmith & Fulham Community Sports Awards. “I really enjoyed my second year at College, it was a lot more hands on” she says. “I injured my calf around this time, so I spent a lot of it coaching rather than playing but I just wanted to get back out there”.
As her time at College came to an end in 2016, Caoimhe was looking for a new challenge when Miguel and Liam introduced her to the London Tigers where she set up a disability team and now works as Disability Project Manager and College Liaison.
Her work with the Tigers has been a huge success, working with Brent Mind, Park Royal Mental Health Centre and Ealing Mind to get more people into football. She also liaises regularly with West London’s College to get more players involved in her disability teams, and is hoping to get the Ealing Council involved in her work which includes.
When asked about the future, Caoimhe smiles and explains she is just enjoying where she is right now. “I want to get my level 2 coaching qualification and keep working at the Tigers” she says.
Interested in a career in sport like Caoimhe? Visit wlc.ac.uk/courses/sports-studies to find out more about Sports & Fitness courses as well as our academies in basketball, futsal, football and boxing.