FA Blind Football PLAYER PROFILE

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By Gareth Bennett

As Hereford is the home of blind football, many of England’s players are based in Hereford and I have the privilege of being the strength and conditioning coach for many of these great athletes. In this column I will reveal some background information about the players, profiling their experience and training styles.

DYLAN MALPAS, 21
Dylan is from Birmingham, and prior to joining the England squad in 2014 he was in the Birmingham City Youth Team. When he was given the opportunity to wear the three lions and represent his country at a national level, Dylan jumped at the chance, and since joining the squad he has earned 18 caps! In addition to his commitments to training for England, Dylan is also studying for a degree in Sports Science at the prestigious Loughborough University.

The work ethic of this player is second to none – he is constantly striving to improve his football skills and physical abilities. In his strength and conditioning sessions we work mainly on the plyometric explosive exercises such as lateral jumps and depth jumps, but also on unilateral exercises (using one limb at a time) to add extra focus on his core function.

Dylan’s dedication led to incredible progress and resulted in top level performance on the pitch. Recently, when England played five matches against the current European Champions Turkey, Dylan played in three games and kept a clean sheet, cementing his reputation for an awesome achievement against such tough opposition.

Pictured above: Dan English (left), Gareth Bennett (centre), Dylan Malpas (right).

DAN ENGLISH, 26
Originally from Sunderland, Dan was 9 years old when he lost his sight to familial exudative vitreoretinopathy, a hereditary progressive sight loss disorder. Despite this, Dan has managed to achieve more in his life than many sighted people!

Dan has studied at the Hereford based Royal National College for the Blind, where he qualified with top marks in his A levels, as well in sports massage and holistic massage. Dan currently runs his own successful massage business (Dan English Massage) and can be found on Facebook if you would like to book a treatment.

Dan has been in the England squad for nine years and has earned an incredible 92 caps. He has played all over the world and he is currently the highest scorer in the squad.

Pictured: Gareth during a training session with Dan.

Dan’s passion and commitment to blind football has led to being awarded the captaincy of the team. He is such a strong player on the pitch – he sets fear into the hearts of his opponents as he can run through any defence put in front of him.

Due to his fearless approach and 100 per cent commitment on the pitch Dan has been plagued with a few injuries in the past year because of the high stress placed on his body. My job as his strength and conditioning coach is to deliver more prehab exercise to help postural correction, as well as gluteal and core activation work.

Delivering these exercises to a visually impaired player has its own challenges as he can’t see visual cues. As you can see in the picture on the previous page, we overcome this by Dan getting his hands on me while I perform the exercises. That way he has a better idea in his head to go along with my verbal cues.

So far Dan’s performance on the pitch has been strong and he has kept his injuries at bay, even scoring past current European Champions Turkey in the recent friendlies.

Keep up the good work!

Pictured: Gareth’s work with Dylan includes a lot of plyometric training.

Gareth Bennett is personal trainer and 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

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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