Since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London, many disabled people have felt inspired to start taking part in sporting activities.
Disability football is an increasingly popular option, and this article will look at what is available and how to take part. In fact, football has the third highest participation rate in disability sport, so if you want to take part in the beautiful game, read on…
Not long ago, many disabled people felt that sport wasn’t for them. Perhaps sports facilities were inaccessible, or people felt so overburdened by the demands of physical therapy that they didn’t want to push their bodies any further. Then, during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, many disabled people from across Europe and around the world were inspired to dream. The possibility of physical activity became a realistic hope, and traditional sports facilities began to look at how they could set themselves up to serve disabled people, and enable us to take part in activities that many had long given up on.
Football was one of the sports that many disabled people wished to play. Whether its a kick about with family and friends in the park, or a wish to rise to the top and represent their country at the Olympics, many disabled people are enthusiastic about football and ready to take part.
In the UK, the Football Association (FA) has created a Disability Talent Programme, the aim of which is “to identify young players deemed to possess higher levels of ability and to place them into a developmental programme designed to produce football excellence in conjunction with personal development”. For enthusiastic players who dream of success on the pitch, this kind of scheme is ideally positioned to draw them into the sport and enhance their abilities, building confidence as well as fitness and skills.
Find a local disability football team
Some disabled people want to be able to kick a ball around with their friends, while others want a more professional, formalised approach involving coaching and competition. There are organisations across Europe, from Belgium to Switzerland, where disabled people can group together and play the beautiful game. Budding players in the UK can search for places where they can participate in disability football regionally. As well as accessing the Disability Football Club Directory, individuals can also carry out internet searches for local teams and interest groups in their area.
Some disability football teams are impairment specific, which means the entire team has the same impairment or disability. There are teams for amputees, for people with cerebral palsy, for Deaf people, partially sighted people, and those with learning disabilities. Some people prefer to play in mixed teams, but many enjoy the impairment-specific model so they can meet others with the same condition, and so they can play a game that is especially suited to their limitations and abilities.
Because football is a team sport, disability football offers disabled people a way to socialise and make new friends with similar interests. Beginning to participate in a sport that is, by definition, accessible, can be a wonderful way to find new people to mix with. It can help to reduce the isolation that many disabled people face, and contribute to a healthy level of fitness and physical activity. Plus, it can be a thoroughly enjoyable pastime!
So, if you are considering taking part in disability football and want to take that first step, find your nearest team and make a phone call to find out more. It could be the start of a whole new future, with an enjoyable hobby to take part in at the weekends, or a potential way towards representing your county, or even your country in disability sport internationally.