From left to right, Sam plays football

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Sam Nunn, Procurement and Supply Chain Manager, Ipswich, UK
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Like every young person in love with the beautiful game, Sam, aged 11 at the time, wanted to play and follow in the footsteps of idols like Eric Cantona. But after reaching out to a local team, Sam was turned away because of his disability. Sam was born with the rare congenital femur-fibula-ulna (FFU) syndrome. 

For Sam, this rejection was a terrible blow. He explains: “It’s not a particularly fond memory. My parents phoned up a local team asking if I could go training, but the chap at the time didn’t want to accommodate me. That was really, really difficult. I thought ‘I’m never going to be able to play football’, and obviously it was tough. There were tears, absolutely.”

Sam persisted. “Never give up… and don’t let bet365 online sports betting liveanyone bring you down,” he says. After two years of looking for a team, he found Somersham Town’s juniors, who were happy to welcome him into the squad. Then, aged 17, he discovered Wimbledon’s semi-professional amputee team. This would be the start of a playing career that would see him win numerous accolades. Accolades which include the equivalent of a Championship title when he was playing for Ipswich Town’s amputee team – the very town in which he now resides.

Today, he coaches Holbrook Hornets – an able-bodied, junior team that includes his two sons. Sam, who works as a procurement and supply chain manager at ISG, looks back at his story with pride, and a determination to support others. In Sam’s own words: “There’s something out there for everyone.”

Rejection at a young age

Born in Chelmondiston, near Ipswich, Sam’s earliest football memory is attending an Ipswich Town versus Manchester United match. Stars like Eric Cantona captivated Sam, who, like many young people across the country, wanted to play. 11 years of age, Sam and his parents reached out to a local football team. He was excited. Ready to compete among his peers and follow in the footsteps of the legendary players who had inspired him.

“No.” It was an unaccommodating, devastating response from a coach to a kid who just wanted to play football. The rejection isn’t a fond memory for Sam. He distinctly remembers thinking: “I’m never going to play football.” Sam was born with the rare femur-fibula-ulna (FFU) syndrome. This resulted in him having congenital limb malformations to his hands and one of his legs, which requires a prosthetic for movement. For this reason, regardless of ability or enthusiasm, the coach was unwilling to accommodate Sam.

It was the sort of setback that could force a young boy away from football. However, Sam wasn’t one for giving up. In fact, he’s always wanted to prove people wrong. He says: “Never give up. Don’t let anyone bring you down.” Aged 13, Sam and his parents found Somersham Town’s junior team, who were happy to welcome him into their ranks.

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Sam Nunn, Procurement and Supply Chain Manager, ISG

Sam and his brother, right, meet Bobby Charlton, left

Footballing legend Bobby Charlton (left) meets Sam (middle) and his brother (right).

Kicking on

It’s the early 2000s. Sam has played for Somersham’s junior team for four years. He’s 17 now, halfway through his A-levels, and there’s a burning question on his mind: “Is there somewhere I can continue to compete?” The emergence of the internet gave Sam a tool for research, so he booted up a computer and looked bet365 online sports betting liveinto disabled football teams. It was this moment that led Sam to Wimbledon’s semi-professional amputee team, where he successfully trialled for the squad.

Here, Sam competed at the very top of the game. After a stint at Southend United, he discovered Ipswich Town’s amputee team – his local club – during a tournament. Sam comments: “I didn’t even know they had a team, but it was a nice surprise. I exchanged contact details and joined them as a player.” Between the ages of 19 to 28, Sam excelled for Ipswich Town. A journey which saw him become captain and achieve multiple honours, including the Championship title equivalent in 2006.

“Never give up. Don’t let anyone bring you down.”

Sam Nunn, Procurement and Supply Chain Manager, ISG

Sam looks back at his football experiences with fondness. He once played at Chelsea’s famous Cobham training ground in the view of stars like Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. That’s not all. He also went on footballing tours in Scotland and the Netherlands during his time with Southend United.

Hanging up his boots

“For every footballer, there’s a point where your body hurts that bit more after every game. Injuries last a bit longer. You know it’s time to quit,” says Sam, as he looks back at the twilight of his playing career. Sam joined ISG as supply chain manager in 2008, which would also mark the start of his next sporting journey. At the time, the Olympics and Paralympics were on the horizon. Sam wondered if there was another competitive sport out there for him. There was. Clay pigeon shooting was Sam’s next calling, and he would excel at the sport.

Sam (top left) with the rest of the ISG five-a-side team after winning a trophy

Sam (top left) with the ISG five-a-side team after winning a trophy.

In 2014, Sam won the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (CPSA) Disabled Shooter of the Year Award. It was one of two occasions he would win the award. Sam would also go on to finish second in two world championships. In 2014, he became English Open Champion. It was a monumental achievement, but that wasn’t the only big piece of news in the Nunn family. Just a week after receiving the accolade, Sam’s son Jack was born. 

It wasn’t the only time Sam would be English champion too – winning the title a second time in 2020. Sam recalls how he won a tense finale in 2020: “We each had six targets and seven shots – two for the final target. My opponent went first and hit five. I hit five in a row, leaving me with two shots and one target to take the win. It wasn’t an easy target. In fact, it was a calamity at first – I missed. Then, as if by miracle, I managed to hit the target with bet365 online sports betting appmy second shot. I remember the crowd gasping. I think if I had 20 more shots, I probably wouldn’t have hit it again.” 

It’s a moment that could be likened to a penalty shootout. An unsettling, unnerving moment that demands character. Character which Sam has in abundance, having overcome numerous hurdles throughout his sporting career.

A qualified coach

Beyond clay shooting, Sam is also a qualified football coach. He acquired FA level two coaching badges during his time at Ipswich Town FC. As for his coaching CV, he’s led numerous non-league sides, including Woolverstone, Ransomes Sports and Shotley Sports.

“There’s always something for everyone. Whether it’s work, football, another sport, relationships, whatever. Some people get shoehorned into stuff and are scared to try different things. Give stuff a try. If you need help, reach out.” 

Sam Nunn, Procurement and Supply Chain Manager, ISG

Today, Sam is coach and secretary for Holbrook Hornets. It’s an able-bodied junior football team where his two sons play. It feels only fitting for Sam to take the reins as coach and provide the next generation with a platform to thrive, given his own experiences as a child. Speaking about the Holbrook Hornets, he says: “We’re very much a development club. I like the inclusiveness of it; being able to support kids who are behind in their footballing development. I like the satisfaction of helping them get involved and find a place. We’ve had kids who struggled to kick the ball go on to be good players.” From a personal perspective, there’s a lot to be proud of for Sam, who acknowledges the best experience is: “Seeing your own children score. There’s little more special than that.”

Sam strives to promote inclusivity in football and beyond. Through coaching, he wants to create opportunities for both able-bodied and disabled individuals. He explains: “We should all be treated equally. When it comes to football, young people should all be getting fair game-time and receive those opportunities which I never got.”

Beyond football, Sam hopes his story can inspire others to find a place, a passion, a hobby. He remarks: “There’s always something for everyone. Whether it’s work, football, another sport, relationships, whatever. Some people get shoehorned into stuff and are scared to try different things. Give stuff a try. If you need help, reach out.” 

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