CHICAGO (Jan. 27, 2014) – U.S. Soccer has named Stuart Sharp head coach of the U.S. Paralympic National Soccer Team in preparation for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
To be eligible for the U.S. Paralympic National Soccer team, players must be ambulatory and have a physical challenge from a diagnosis of cerebral palsy (CP) or from having suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Sharp, who guided the Scotland Paralympic Team to a qualification position for the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games, convened a January training camp at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center in Carson, Calif., and will hold a second training camp at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., from Feb. 1-9 to begin his time in charge of the U.S. Paralympic Team. The February training camp includes two friendlies against England on Feb. 5 and 8.
“It’s a great honor to be given this position as head coach of the U.S. Paralympic Soccer Team,” said Sharp. “It’s a team that already has a talented player pool and there’s fantastic potential out there within the nation to grow that pool and grow the game as a whole. I’m relishing the opportunity to take the program forward.”
Sharp most recently was the Director of International Development for BlazeSports America (the legacy organization of the 1996 Paralympic Games) where he worked with Paralympic committees and coaches across the globe to support the development of sport overseas.
He held the position of National Development Manager (Disability) for the Scottish Football Association in addition to being head coach of the Scottish National CP Team from 2005-11. Under his stewardship, the team climbed from 32nd in the world to hold a steady sixth-place ranking and a qualifying position for the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games. His work with the Scottish National CP Team saw him named Scottish Disability Sport National Coach of the Year in 2007, and the team was named the Scottish Sports Awards Team of the Year in 2008.
During his time with the Scottish Football Association, Sharp developed a player pathway for those with disabilities that included National Teams, regional squads, regional school leagues, a coaching education course and multiple clubs that serviced six different disability categories. He was also a key member of the successful Bid Team and Local Organizing Committee for the 2010 CPISRA European Championships.
“I’ll be drawing upon my experience of finishing in a qualification place at two Paralympic Games and with the Scotland Paralympic team, holding the No. 6 ranking in the world,” said Sharp. “I hope I can use this knowledge to take the U.S. team to the next level.”
Sharp also has worked as a US Youth Olympic Development Program coach from 2012-13, was the University of Strathclyde’s Men’s First Team head coach from 2006-10, and was a professional youth team coach for Queens Park FC, Stirling Albion FC and the Scottish FA.
In addition to his coaching credentials, Sharp serves as the Head of Technical Development for the Cerebral Palsy International Sport and Recreation Association, the world’s soccer governing body for athletes with cerebral palsy. He has worked with CPISRA since 2007.
Individuals with cerebral palsy, had a stroke or traumatic brain injury who wish to learn more about potentially playing for the U.S. Paralympic National Team should contact head coach Stuart Sharp via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paralympic soccer uses modified FIFA rules in a seven-a-side game format and is played by athletes who have either cerebral palsy, a traumatic brain injury or have survived a stroke. National Team members are selected throughout the year at recruitment and training camps held across the country. U.S. Paralympics is a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee and is dedicated to becoming the world leader in the Paralympic sports movement and promoting excellence in the lives of all persons with physical disabilities. Visit the U.S. Paralympics Web site at www.usparalympics.org.