The FA’s aim for disability football is to ensure that young people not only have the opportunity to play, whatever the ability, but that talented players are developed to reach their full potential, through established pathways in the areas they live. There are many issues to take onboard when considering Disability Equality in football, including the impact of the following factors on a disabled persons capacity to participate: Low income or being on benefits; Travel challenges; Non-disabled people’s prejudices; A Lack of access to facilities and programmes; Special needs or requirements to be met; Parental concerns/over protection.
At the Essex FA, we are committed to providing football for all and are continually working to establish a pathway in Essex that will help individuals and clubs achieve their potential.
There are two entry points for people with a disability to play structured football in Essex. The first is by attending an Inclusive club/organisation. Information of these opportunities can be found through the Essex FA or local media channels.
The second, is through coaches and teaching staff delivering sessions within schools along with Football In The Community sessions run by professional and semi professional clubs. These sessions will offer a basic taster of what participants can expect from attending football sessions. Currently in Chelmsford there is limited formal football provision for those people who have a disability. Chelmsford City FC are currently in the middle of a three year plan.
Year 1: Develop an U16/Adult disability football section to the club. The basis of this could be formed through a college/FE disability league in Chelmsford.
Year 2: Develop the clubs provision through focussing on impairment specific, for example Blind Football. Alongside this you can start to work with 16+ involved with your club in becoming volunteers and offering coaching/training courses.
Year 3: With the basis of course provision being developed you could expand to work with young people in risk of offending, playing against other projects working with similar young people and offering participants courses to improve their CV. We are expanding our Disability Football Programme thanks to the award of a grant of £8,636 from the newly-established Football Conference Community Club Development Fund, and two registration evenings which took place under the watchful eyes of First Team players proved highly successful at Melbourne Stadium. The new programme is open to males or females over 16 with any type of disability. The club will run twelve coaching sessions each term for one hour on Tuesday evenings at Writtle College and a summer school of eight one-and-a-half-hour slots on grass facilities.
The long term goal, by year three, is to have both a men’s and a ladies’ adult disability team competing under the City banner. We also aim to develop coaches to work specifically with adults with disabilities by putting ten people through Levels One and Two of The Football Association’s Coaching Disabled Footballers Course over the next three years. This training scheme would also be open to those with disabilities.
The programme is being supported by the Essex Inclusive Sports Enterprise, Writtle College and the Essex County FA, with additional support from Chelmsford Borough Council via Active Chelmsford and the Chelmsford Partnership. It was launched during two registration days in February and, on the second of these, newcomers had the opportunity to meet some of the Clarets’ First Team players and staff. Brian Lee, Chairman of the Conference, is understandably proud of the new scheme, saying: “We are grateful to both the Premier League and the PFA for their generosity in creating this Fund. Chelmsford City are one of many clubs undertaking important work in their communities and I look forward to seeing the outcome of their work.”
August saw the Conference launch the Fund, which was made possible by the generous commitment of the Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association. They hope the money will encourage member clubs to develop community work and both parties contributed £400,000 each to the Fund in the first year. This is accessible to all members, who can apply for up to £12,000 each in the first year. Chief Executive of the Premier League, Richard Scudamore, hoped it would be a boost to the grassroots, saying: “The Premier League and our member clubs recognise the importance of the continued health of football outside the Football League and it is with this in mind that we have made this commitment to the Football Conference.”
Gordon Taylor OBE, meanwhile, the Chief Executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, added: “The PFA have built strong relationships with both the Premier League and the Football Conference to encourage football club community schemes to be at the heart of effecting positive change within their local communities by supporting them to develop innovative projects that respond to local needs. Without the generous funding, none of these opportunities could come about for people who really benefit from them,” said Genevieve Yusuf from the Essex Inclusive Sports Enterprise. “There has been no provision of football for those with disabilities for a while now in Chelmsford and the EISE work directly with the people who are really going to enjoy this sporting opportunity now it’s available.”
For further information on how to get involved with the scheme, contact Jade Mullingrr on (01245) 290959 or E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chelmsford City FC's Disability Football is part of the Club's 'City In The Community' programme.