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Soccer app created by Bond student helps children with disabilities

Young soccer players with learning disabilities are being taught to play the game by an augmented reality app designed by a Bond University student.

Nicholas Shaw, 20, was inspired to design the training app after he started coaching last year.

Since creating the app for smartphones and tablets, he has seen a marked improvement in the confidence and skill levels of his playing group at Robina City FC.

The app shows training drills, positioning and formations in augmented reality.

“I started coaching last year because of a hip injury. I’ve played all my life, since I was five, but I had no idea about coaching,” Mr Shaw said.

“I have a few kids with learning disabilities, we started training in February and I’ve been trying to teach them off a white board or verbally, and it just wasn’t working.

“I’d have to explain it to them four or five times in different ways.

“This app came about to help me coach and relate to the kids better.”

The Bond Interactive Media and Design student hopes to continue building and improving the app, and eventually partner with either Football Queensland or Football Australia to help other coaches and players across the country.

“Ideal world, I want to partner with a big company so I can build it for other people,” he said.

“I have it for myself, but others coaches don’t have the luxury of using it to help them.

“I’ve looked for other things and there is nothing in the augmented reality space to help coaches and players. There are drills on YouTube, but no app.

“We don’t have any coaching courses to deal with people who have learning difficulties and it needs to happen.

“There needs to be more help out there.”

Both of Mr Shaw’s teams made the finals of the Gold Coast competition, even though the majority of his players were in their first year of the sport.

But the relationships and life skills the players are learning are far more important than results, according to the 20-year-old.

“You have your own little imprint on them for the future and it is not just football-wise,” he said.

“Mentally and personally, you can’t pass up the chance to make their week. I see coaching them as a safe space that they enjoy.

“You can see when they do something you have taught them on the field and that is awesome, but also you can see their confidence and lives are better as a result.

“It is really rewarding. If I can impact one life, it is awesome -- something I didn’t really anticipate when I started coaching.”

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