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In The Spotlight: Midlands Downs Syndrome

Our Disability FDO Harley recently visited one of our fantastic England Football Disability Recreation Centres

Our Disability Football Development Officer Harley recently visited one of our fantastic England Football Disability Recreation Centres. The centre is based at Rigby Hall School and runs sessions on the first Friday of every month.

The evening is split into 3 groups with the first session commencing at 17:30 for 5-8 year olds. During this session, Harley was fortunate enough to speak with a few parents to understand what this inclusive session means to them and their children with one parent stating, "This session is for ‘OUR’ children, being the only Down Syndrome specific session. The sessions are always really busy with players and cater to every age group". The parent also spoke of their recent visit to Bristol where they participated in matches against a Down Syndrome team from the area, "We recently went to Bristol for a game against their teams, and the kids all got invited to watch the Bristol City match against Birmingham afterwards".

During the first session, another parent also stated that her son, "Really enjoys coming and loves Football. Originally he held back, however this session has massively helped improve his confidence". During the session players began by taking shots at a goal and there was a lot of cheering and clapping when goals were scored, this progressed to a small dribbling drill that lead to a shot on goal before ending with a match pitting players against each other in a challenge to score as many goals as possible.

The second session commences at 18:15 and is aimed at 8-12 year olds. During this period, a parent exclaimed to Harley that, "It was nice to have something totally aimed at children with Downs Syndrome. Coming to these sessions allows Mum to feel at ease as all children and parents are in the same boat. It’s a safe space where I can be rest assured my child is safe". Another family also travelled over an hour to the session as it was the best opportunity for their child to participate in an inclusive football session. During the second group, Harley got involved in a game of ‘Pirates’ where players had to steal footballs from each other’s ‘Treasure Chest’. This was a brilliant opportunity for players to be competitive but with FUN at the heart of the game. 

The final session of the night caters for children age 12+ and lasts slightly longer at an hour. During this session a sibling of one of the players stated that this was the, "Highlight of her brothers month" and that he, "Counts down the days until the session". Furthermore, the sibling indulged that her family had been attending for years and they all enjoy supporting the team. The sessions have allowed the players to come ‘out of their shell’ and make new friends. Another parent explained that, "The ball skills learnt from attending would never have been learnt in a different environment. The coaches are really patient and create sessions to suit the needs of the players. Because Downs Syndrome is so unique this session allows players to progress at their own pace". All parents were extremely complimentary of the coaches who not only dedicate their time to the session but also have a real desire for creating a positive environment for players to participate in.

For more information on these sessions or if you wish for your child to be involved, please contact