Graduation for inspirational blind footballer

Categories: Salford Business School

A blind England international footballer who also set up a ground-breaking business educating school children about disabilities has graduated from the University of Salford.

Azeem Amir, from Rochdale, has completed a Masters in Digital Business, while simultaneously running his business and playing elite level football.

His family were present to see Azeem receive his degree during the ceremony, held in Maxwell Hall on Salford’s Peel Park campus, the first physical ceremonies to take place since the covid pandemic.

The 22 year old, who was born with no sight in his right eye and just light perception in his left, plays blind football professionally around the world with England. And In 2019, he started Learn With ESS with the help Launch @salforduni, the university business incubator.

Azeem said: “I have had an amazing four years at Salford, and it has opened up so many opportunities for me. The sports centre staff and facilities have been amazing and such a help with my football. Launch was a massive boost to my business and the skills I learned while studying first for my degree and then my masters have helped me get somewhere and given me skills I can use.

“I want to showcase the fact that you can deal and manage with challenges and still be successful, get a degree and all the other things that university offers. You just have to have the right mindset.”

The inspirational graduate now wants to focus on his football and recruit and grow his business.

Learn with ESS is aimed at educational institutions such as schools and colleges, professional and grassroots sports clubs, as well as corporate businesses, Learn With ESS aims to offer a unique life lasting experience.

Azeem created his own team of coaches and has launched a unique workshop programme - he is already gaining UK-wide interest and is in talks with the Football Association and other organisations about delivering them internationally.

The workshops look to address stigmatised issues surrounding disability and change perceptions through team building activities and away days.

Azeem developed a workshop which incorporates classroom based activities on learning, visual and hearing impairment awareness, followed by a practical Paralympic taster session on sports such as blind football and goalball, and a motivational talk from a local role model or athlete.

Since Azeem started his business, he has also partnered with the National Citizen Service to introduce his programme into English Football League Clubs and community trusts including Blackburn Rovers, Oldham Athletic, Preston North-End, Salford City FC and Rochdale AFC.

Dr Marie Griffiths, Azeem’s supervisor during his Masters at the University of Salford Business School, said: “I never any doubt he would achieve and meet his personal goals, as a student he was determined and he always engaged, but best of all he was curious and wanted to learn. He excelled and that is down to good old fashioned hard work.”

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