UNITED THROUGH FOOTBALL
Over 3,000 disabled people have become involved in football as a result of a grassroots project led by London United, The FA and the Wembley Stadium Trust.
Inclusive United, the result of a joint partnership between the three organisations, was set up to engage and sustain the participation of disabled people in football by offering greater and more inclusive opportunities to become physically active in London.
The three-year initiative has seen 150 separate programmes delivered by 12 different professional football clubs and trusts in the capital with 81 new teams created.
The project has also provided training to 613 people enabling them to increase and improve opportunities for disabled people through coaching and mentoring.
The 3,000 participants have engaged in a range of programmes for people with physical impairments including an amputee football programme, a powerchair football project and ‘Upbeats’ which has set up teams for people with Downs Syndrome.
A number of projects giving people with a range of learning disabilities and mental health issues the opportunity to play football have also been set up.
Joseph Lyons from West Ham United Foundation and London United, said: “We know only around 35% of disabled Londoners lead physically active lives so this project was about trying to address this by bringing partners together to increase opportunities for people to play football.
Inclusive United has had a massive impact not only in terms of increasing participation but by also putting the right structures in place to ensure that participation can continue to grow in the future.”
The Red Dragons Football Club in Waltham Forest was one of the 81 clubs set up as a result of Inclusive United. Led by Leyton Orient Trust and the NHS, the team is specifically for children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), a condition that effects motor coordination and planning and can result in children having difficulty joining in with play and sports.
The team and the project won the Inclusive Sports Award at the 2016 Waltham Forest Sports Awards.
Fiona Kingsley, a Children’s Occupational Therapy Clinical Lead working with the Leyton Orient Trust, said:
“Setting up the Red Dragons Football Club has been an incredible journey from the initial idea of the club to winning at Waltham Forest Sport Awards. We’ve seen a clinical need be realised into a fantastic football club, which is loved by parents, staff and most importantly the children.
She added: Working with Leyton Orient Trust as part of the Inclusive United programme has allowed us to create a positive, sustainable and unique solution to meeting these children’s needs. The club has brought enormous benefits to the children and their families.”