FA Blind Football PLAYER PROFILE – Owen Bainbridge and Brandon Coleman

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By Gareth Bennett

Pictured, Owen Bainbridge (left), Gareth Bennett (centre), Brandon Coleman (right).

Following on from the profiles of two inspirational players Dylan Malpas and Dan English in the previous edition, I would like to showcase another two talented footballers and top athletes, who reside in Herefordshire and make me proud to be a strength and conditioning coach for their amazing team.


Owen, who is originally from Bishop Auckland in County Durham, lost his sight from the age of 7 to congenital glaucoma. The diagnosis did not stop him chasing his passion for football, and he started playing in the blind league for Worcester. It wasn’t long before his talents were noticed by the England staff and he signed his contract at the age of 19. After nine years of being in the elite England squad he has earned 54 caps and scored countless goals for his country, playing in many countries from Italy to Turkey and South Korea.

An extremely dedicated athlete both on and off the pitch, Owen is in a great shape and his athletic strength and abilities are second to none.

Owen has recently damaged the meniscus in his knee but we are fixing him up with lots of rehabilitation. This includes keeping him strong by using quadriceps activation techniques to reduce the pressure on his knee joint to a minimum. His dedication and commitment to his training over the years gives me the utmost confidence that he will play in the upcoming European Championships this year.

In addition to his football career, Owen works as a sports and remedial massage therapist. He is also a father to baby Zachary, so I really don’t know how he manages it all! Keep up the awesome work, Owen.


Brandon, from Portsmouth, lost his sight at the age of 17 to a genetic condition called Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy. He only got his contract with England in January 2016, but he has already cemented his position as an integral part of the team. He has earned 17 caps and scored 3 crucial goals – his first against Germany, second against Spain, and the most recent one against Romania, with no doubt many more to come in the future.

Brandon is super fit, and both physically and mentally strong. His training programme includes a lot of compound (multi joint) exercises, as well as unilateral (single limb exercises), with core stabilising and strengthening movements. Once a week we meet up for a fitness session focussed on high intensity anaerobic threshold training. It is the kind of training that results in Brandon hating me by the end of the session but he always gives it a 100 per cent and forgives me by the time our next session is due! Brandon’s commitment to training with me in the gym is matched by his efforts on the training pitch, where the football coaches put the team through their paces.

To keep Brandon’s injuries at bay, we have to constantly work on mobility drills, flexibility, a lot of foam rolling and massage. His commitment to training means he does a lot of this on his own, as part of a daily routine we have worked out for him.

Brandon has a big family and friends network in Portsmouth, and they come to see him play as often as possible, along with his partner Jodie who never misses a game. I’m sure they will see him score plenty of goals in the upcoming European Championships.


Gareth Bennett is personal trainer at Train GB, and Lead Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Paralympic Goalball Team and England’s Blind Football Team.
Email: traingbhereford@gmail.com
Tel: 07429 132 276 www.train-gb.co.uk

Andrea Slivkova
Editor, FitNet Magazine
I am the founder, owner and editor of FitNet, a free glossy B5 sized magazine dedicated to health and active lifestyle in Herefordshire and Monmouth.

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Founder and editor of FitNet.
Previously gymnastics coach, massage therapist and personal trainer with 20 years of experience. Former gymnast and dancer.

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