Paul Breen acknowledges that his new role as Ireland Cerebral Palsy Head Coach will be a difficult challenge but it is one that excites him.
Breen takes over the role from Barry Ferguson, who stepped down after last summer’s Paralympic Games in Rio, and the former Kilbarrack United coach is eager to make his own stamp on the team.
Assisted by Rob Sweeney, the new Head Coach will combine his work on the FAI Project Futsal initiative with preparing the team for upcoming tournaments and also recruiting new players. It’s a big jump and one that will test him.
“I saw the advert for the Head Coach vacancy after Barry (Ferguson) stepped down, so I went for it and was lucky enough to get an interview,” explained Breen of how he got involved.
“Actually, the CP Development Tournament is held where I am based so that was my first insight into CP football, but I have so much to learn about the game and it’s exciting to be involved.
“I will be dealing with a different kind of dynamic that I won’t be used to, learning all of the rules of the game, adapting to a different tempo, new players and structures. But I think it’s something that will improve me as a coach and I feel I can offer a lot to the team.”
The most important event on Breen’s calendar right now is the World Cup in Argentina, which takes place later this year. He knows that there isn’t much time to be wasted and that fast pace is something that thrills him.
“It’s not everyday that you are preparing for a World Championships. For any coach to coach their national team is the pinnacle, so I’m very privileged to be in this position and I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead,” said Breen.
Equally as important as the preparation for Argentina is the search for new players eligible for CP football. Breen firmly believes that he can discover players who may not even be aware that they can represent their national team at this level.
“We are looking for new players all of the time,” he said. “There are players out there playing mainstream football who may not even know that they qualify for the CP team, so I would suggest checking the criteria and getting in touch with us through the Football For All programme.”
Footballers who have cerebral palsy, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, diplegia, hemiplegia, or has had a stroke or an acquired brain injury are eligible for the CP team.
Further information on CP football can be found on the graphic below.
Should any player be interested in playing for the Ireland team, or if you know of someone who qualifies, contact firstname.lastname@example.org