Football is integrated into the lives of young children. The world’s most played sport, everyone should have a chance to play football even if they have a disability. The Welsh Football Trust has enabled countless players with all levels of disability be part of something bigger – a squad of players.
What is Disability Football?
Disability football in Wales was much different 15 years ago than it was today. Players with disabilities were often left in unorganized competitions and were not able to join fully inclusive programs in an effort to hone their skills.
It was a playing field that was not level.
This all changed in 2004. In 2004, there was:
- No coach education programs to train the disabled
- No player pathways to hone their skills and advance their skills
- No structured programs in clubs or schools
There were only four disability teams in all of Wales at this time.
And this had to change. Disability football is the same as football at any level, but it’s geared towards those players that have disabilities that stop them from being able to play on a standard team.
Disability football allows for a better structure, coaching, and options for disabled players to be able to excel in football.
What Regional and National Squads Are Included?
Disabilities come in all types. Regional and national squads are formed to allow players to excel despite their disabilities. There are two main regional squad types:
- Learning Disability (LD)
- Cerebral Palsy (CP)
These players are able to play in South and North Wales and are nominated to their respective teams. Players will be able to enter into programs to:
- Provide the right coaching, with special training for disabled players
- Develop the skills of the most talented players for the LD and CP national squads
Welsh LD National Squad
The Welsh LD national squad included 22 players from across the country ages 16 to 26. The players are able to join contact camps throughout the year. International play against Northern Ireland pushed the squad into the mainstream in November 2012.
Welsh Deaf Futsal Squads
The squad was formed in July 2013 and marked the first time the squad played together. The team was able to train and enter camps in an effort to prepare for the European Deaf Sports Organization championship qualifiers.
Player pathways are available to help players with disabilities overcome their hardships and excel.
History Behind the Welsh Football Trust
The Welsh Football Trust started to change the landscape of football for disabled players between 2005 and 2010. The goal was to create a level playing field for players, and this was accomplished through a grassroots structure.
The results were:
- 532 registered players
- 24 community clubs
- 2 regional festival leagues
- An annual competition; national and regional school finals
- Disability coach education course
And there were three specific impairment playing opportunities founded.
Between 2010 and 2014, the Trust had an uptick of 42% players, and three regional PAN disability leagues were formed with 30 clubs in total. The FAW coaching deaf footballers course was also created to help deaf players excel on the field through proper coaching techniques.
The National Deaf Futsal Cup was also created.
The Welsh Football Trust has goals to reach “insport” accreditation, promote performance programs, and register 6% of the disabled population in football.