Ben raises bar as blind coach

Ben Noble (centre) has qualified as a rugby league coach after working with the Sheffield Eagles players and is pictured receiving his certificate from (left to right): Eagles head coach, Mark Aston; talent coach RFL Midlands, Darren Higgins; sighted guide, Stacey Darby and quality and diversity RFL, Sarah Williams
Ben Noble (centre) has qualified as a rugby league coach after working with the Sheffield Eagles players and is pictured receiving his certificate from (left to right): Eagles head coach, Mark Aston; talent coach RFL Midlands, Darren Higgins; sighted guide, Stacey Darby and quality and diversity RFL, Sarah Williams
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BEN Noble has become the first blind person to qualify as a rugby league coach after working with Sheffield Eagles players.

The 25-year-old, from Shiregreen in Sheffield, was helped to achieve his ambition by doing practical coach sessions with club’s Academy players.

Ben now feels that “he belongs to Sheffield Eagles” after the help he was given.

“I couldn’t have done the coaching course without the Eagles – the Academy players were great, particular Kane Feek who helped me a lot,” said Ben. “It was hard work but it was worth it in the end.”

He got the rugby league bug four years ago after attending an Eagles open day. For the past 18 months he has been doing the coaching course with practical sessions involving Eagles young Academy players based at All Saints High School.

Ben was presented with his coaching certificate before Sheffield Eagles’ game against York at Bramall Lane on Sunday.

Stacey Darby, Ben’s support worker, added: “Without the help from the Eagles this would not have been impossible. It’s a great achievement by Ben.”

Eagles’ head of performance and education Dean Thomas played a big part in arranging coaching sessions so Ben could develop his practical skills working with players.

Ben is the first blind person to achieve the level one coaching qualification.

Sarah Williams, Rugby Football League’s equality and diversity manager, said: “I am absolutely delighted I was at the game to watch Ben being presented with his certificate. He has achieved so much and is an inspiration to both disabled and non-disabled people. “

The theory part of the course was covered in regular sessions with RFL development officer Darren Higgins. He said: “Ben has passed every challenge that was set for him and has worked extremely hard and stayed focused throughout the journey.

“Nothing has fazed him and we have seen a real change in his confidence and self-esteem. He is a real star.”