13 Aug #MyExceptionalStory: Nicholas Motamed
At a young age, Nicholas’s exposure to E-Sports has taught him to have passion for the special needs community, and social inclusion. Nicholas initially joined E-Soccer as a participant, in order to make friends. Growing up on the Autistic Spectrum, Nicholas’s time at E-Soccer was an opportunity to hangout with other children in an inclusive environment.
“I started early in the 2000s when my parents first heard about E-Soccer and I came out to help me out with my special needs. Over time I grew to like it [although] at first, I didn’t like it. But it really helped me, helped me out with my friends and all that, and helped me out with my special needs.”
By being a participant at E-Soccer, Nicholas was able to build dynamic and consistent friendships with the E-Soccer community. The time he spent at E-soccer helped him gain the heart about the importance of inclusion. He was motivated to give to others the same sense of inclusion that he had felt when he joined himself. This motivation led Nicholas to begin volunteering as an assistant coach back in 2013.
“And a couple years later, like I think in 2013 or so, I decided hey I wanna be a assistant coach so I started being an assistant coach and helping, giving back to others.”
Nicholas’ compassion and charisma towards the kids is infectious. It impacts not only the kids but the other coaches around him as well. Being someone who had previously participated in E-Soccer, Nicholas knows what methods of teaching and inclusion work, giving him a “kid first” mindset.
“Well, I can see there’s a lot of people who have disabilities just like me or beyond and how we can use something like e-soccer to really help someone not just with soccer skills but just include them . . . to be able to make friends. Inclusion means helping everyone like special ed or typical or different races, just including everybody.”
In particular, one kid seems to stand out to Nicholas. This child has autism, and Nicholas uses the ways he was included as a child at E-Soccer to engage this new player.
“There is a kid that I look forward to seeing every week. His Autism prevents him from talking and interacting well, and he needs help to stay focused. Just a year ago, he would not even stay on the field, he moved around a lot and gets into his own world. This year, I’ve seen him improve to the point that most weeks he is happy to come on the field and is learning ball skills, too. I enjoy coaching him at soccer, because I feel like I can help him and be his friend.”
By going to E-Soccer, Nicholas was able to use his experience with autism to help other children in the special needs community. He will continue to volunteer at E-Soccer as he attends Skyline Community College in the fall!