MEET MOHAMMED ABDULLAHI: THE UNSTOPPABLE FOOTBALL COACH FROM MOSS SIDE
Injuries, surgeries and a pandemic have all failed to stop Mohammed pursuing a career in his favourite sport. And now, after starting his own coaching business, he is more determined than ever before. Caitlin Hyem spoke to the inspirational 21- year-old about his journey so far.
“Within football, injuries are pretty much guaranteed. But it’s all about how you get back on your feet again. How you motivate yourself and find your passion for the sport again.” These are the words of 21-year-old Mohammed Abdullahi, an inspiring football coach from Moss Side who uses his setbacks to fuel his unwavering determination.
Mohammed fell in love with football when he was seven years old. Since then, his passion for the game has continued to grow.
He remembers playing football whenever he had the chance as a kid, the best time being in the school holidays when he could go straight out after breakfast until he was called in by his parents. With his friends he would take to the streets of Moss Side to play football games such as ‘Kerby’ and ‘Wembley’.
Mohammed said: “Street football is different to any type of football.
“With it being mainly on concrete, you will have a few scars and bumps. But it makes you who you are, you know? I did a slide tackle on concrete, and I don’t mind at all because that goal didn’t go in. It shows passion.”
As Mohammed progressed to grassroots football, he became a key member of St John’s Football Club. By using the skills he had learned on the streets, it became clear that a professional playing career would be achievable in the future.
He said: “My passion for football came from the adrenaline you got out of scoring a last-minute goal or winning a cup or winning a game. You can never get bored of that feeling.”
But unfortunately, Mohammed’s goal to play professionally was unsettled when he started to experience severe pains in his feet at the age of 13.
“I was told surgery was the best thing for me before I started growing more. It was like a now or never type of thing”, he recalled.
“It was quite sad. But I knew it was a battle that I had to go against.”
His dreams of playing football professionally slowly started to fade. Following the surgery, the 13-year-old spent weeks in a wheelchair and received extensive physiotherapy at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
After his treatment, the young centre-back was so excited to be back on the pitch and tried to ignore the discomfort caused by playing football.
“I think playing through the pain kind of made me who I am today. Sometimes you have to just stand up to your battles and not give up.
“I think me not giving up easy was probably the best thing I’ve done.”
In 2019, the St John’s player faced another setback. He needed surgery again, this time on his Achilles.
“It was a difficult time for me mentally”, Mohammed said.
“When you see yourself not being able to walk and you have to start from baby steps and learn how to walk again, it’s a physical and mental battle.”
Determined to recover and driven to succeed, Mohammed wasn’t going to let anything get in his way. So, he developed a positive mindset and focused on the future.
“Having health on my side, it made me really humble. I was just so grateful to be able to walk again.
“When you wake up, just the smallest of blessings can keep you humble. We can see, we can walk. Not everyone has these abilities. So having them humbled me. It gave me motivation to push on and use them to my advantage.”
After his second surgery, Mohammed spent a lot of his time volunteering with children who were learning to play football.
One day, the idea of coaching was proposed to him and he agreed to give it a go. At the time, he knew he still wanted a career in football but was uncertain about exactly what job that might be.
“As I started to give the kids advice, and then saw them take on that advice to better themselves, it was rewarding.”
Mohammed soon realised that coaching was the answer he had been looking for, so he started working towards his FA qualifications.
“Seeing the ladder that I had to climb to get to the top, I was more than determined to make it there.
“I’m just very hungry to learn and to achieve more”, he added.
This year, the young coach hopes to start his UEFA B qualification after delays caused by the pandemic.
But until then, the 21-year-old is working tirelessly to gain as much coaching experience as possible.
As a proud Moss Side resident all his life, community has always been important to Mohammed. During lockdown, he took inspiration from fellow Mancunian, Marcus Rashford, to use the power of football to benefit his community.
When social distancing restrictions were eased last summer, the aspiring coach organised tournaments and games for local footie fans.
“When I started coaching people within my community, bringing people together was the best part of it.”
Now Mohammed has set up his own business, Inspire Coaching. His mission is to provide quality coaching to help players develop both on and off the pitch.
“My main aim is helping players and giving them opportunities that I never had — give them belief that they can achieve their dreams.”
At the end of 2021, Inspire Coaching teamed up with local charities to run various winter football camps. Mohammed aims to host more seasonal projects this year, alongside regular coaching sessions.
The Moss Side footballer is grateful for the We Love MCR Charity, who offered financial support to Inspire Coaching in its early days. As part of their Rising Stars Fund, they awarded the new company £1,600, which went towards coaching equipment, venue hire and a branded uniform.
Nick Clarke, We Love MCR Charity’s Communications and Fundraising Officer, said: “We knew the award would support Mohammed in realising his potential and continuing to be a great role-model to his younger siblings and in the wider community.”
Later in life, Mohammed aspires to manage a professional team, either nationally or internationally. But for now, the determined coach knows what he wants. And that is to help, unite and inspire his community, all with the help of a football.
To get involved with Inspire Coaching, click here.