Providing Football Opportunities for Children with Disabilities

By Josh Birch

Trainee Reporter

As part of the Foundation’s commitment to providing opportunities for all, we’ve been able to hold inclusive football sessions for children at the English Institution of Sport. Thanks to fantastic partnerships with Cerebral Palsy Sport, Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA, Sheffield City Council, Sheffield City Trust and Yorkshire Sport Foundation with funding from the Premier League Charitable Fund, our weekly Cerebral Palsy & Frame Football session gives more young people the access to enjoy football, create friendships and develop footballing skills.

Rob Jenkinson, Participation & Inclusion Manager at the Foundation says: “We‘ve partnered with a lot of organisations that have really allowed us to increase our reach for disability specific provision within Sheffield, and we’ve worked alongside all these partners to develop a cerebral palsy and frame football session for young people that need aid to walk and be mobile. Working with the partners we have an opportunity for them to play some inclusive football that’s really suited for them.”

Our Disability Sport CoachBrad Fox, talks about the benefits of the session:

“A session like this helps kids massively, from their social and emotional wellbeing to creating friendships, but also to helping their physical side too. Some people may struggle with walking and giving that opportunity to go and play with the football develops the strength and the wellbeing they need to progress further. Giving them the knowledge and the time to play football with their peers in their own community is a very important thing for them.”

Brad highlights the disability sport pathways available to participants and the great feedback we’ve had so far:

“The future development for the players within the sessions is the England Para pathway. The pathway is unique for people who have either cerebral palsy or are an amputee, blind, hearing impaired or deaf. We are quite fortunate that we have been able to send two players through to the Para Pathway in Rosie and Stanley, who will shortly be participating within some talent identification days. The feedback from parents has been absolutely fantastic. A lot of the young people have developed new skills, gained more confidence not just in the community but also going into school, understanding physical activity in PE and trying new and different games.”

A parent of one of our regular participants said of the session: “It’s the best thing we’ve done for him. We’ve been coming here for about two months or so. The session is brilliant, he loves being part of it and the inclusivity of it is excellent. He likes being part of the group playing with peers and kicking the ball. As soon as we pull into the car park he starts cheering, I can’t say enough good words about it to be honest.”

The sessions are for children aged 5-15 years-old and are held at the English Institute of Sport Sheffield (Coleridge Road, Sheffield, S9 5DA) every Tuesday, 5-6pm. Sessions are currently on hiatus during the summer but will return in September. 

To book a place on an upcoming session, please contact Julie Callaghan, Disability and Inclusion Officer at Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA at or 07736 946696.