Our UoB Women’s Football club are hosting a series of events for Girls’ Football Week; an initiative ran by the FA to celebrate those involved in the sport and to get more participants and coaches within girls’ football. They decided to use this opportunity to suss out how we can make the sport more accessible for those with a disability.
UoB Women’s FC are finding ways to make football inclusive – not only to increase the number of females in the sport, but also to raise awareness and participation within disability football by running two sessions this week specifically aimed at those with disabilities. In honour of the Disability Festivals, we caught up with the team Captain, Josie Cottam to ask her about how football is becoming a disability inclusive sport.
How does football benefit players with disabilities?
Football allows players to stay fit and healthy by keeping them active. It also comes with a support network of coaches and players, which in turn increases confidence in social environments. It’s really rewarding from a coaching point of view too – being able to offer that opportunity to everyone is really important.
How is disability football adapted to be inclusive to players with disabilities?
As part of Girls’ Football Week we are running a Disability Football Festival which means we will be having lots of different matches going on. Each match will be altered to be suitable for all abilities and disabilities. This includes using altered equipment such as a ball that makes noise.
There are also activities ran in addition to the matches such as penalty shoot outs to capture those who may not be comfortable playing in a match environment but still enjoy and want to get involved in the sport.
Which disabilities does the session cater for?
Our Disability Football Festival is inclusive and therefore open to all disabilities and genders as not only do we want to help get those with disabilities involved in the sport, we also want more people to be engaged with the adapted version of the sport and help run sessions and raise awareness of the opportunities available to everyone.
The festival during Girls’ Football Week will see people with visual impairments and behavioural disabilities come together and enjoy the sport.
How can I get involved?
Get in contact! We can offer pathways within the community and by attending our JustPlay sessions.
Details of the Disability Football Festival events
Gemma Davies, Head of Women’s Football, said about the Festival:
‘We’re really excited to be hosting our first ever disability football event taking place at Queen Alexandra College today and also on Friday at Aston Villa – it’s a great opportunity to get even more girls into the sport and show that it’s not an exclusive game. We want to see as many people down at the festival as possible and hope that we can encourage everyone to get involved – no matter what your experience or ability.’
While the University is aiming to encourage as many people as possible into the sport, regardless of ability or experience, the FA has many specific disability football initiatives in place, and they have recently seen an impressive growth in the number of disability-specific teams – fantastic news for the sport.
‘The FA works in partnership with the County FA network and a range of other partners to ensure opportunities to play exist at a local level across all three pathways. There has been significant growth in recent years that has seen the number of disability specific team’s increase from 384 in 2009 to over 2,000 as of January 2017.
‘The FA has recently announced further investment into disability football via The FA disability workforce fund (DWF) which has seen the creation of a network of 29 disability-specific football development officers, each with a remit of retaining and growing participation levels. Over the next three years (2016 to 2019), DWF will see team numbers reach over 2,600; 1,000 recreational turn-up-and-play centres will be created; and 145 disability football education courses will be delivered to over 2300 coaches.’
Read more about the FA, For All campaign here.
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