Some of the things you may wish to consider when looking for an inclusive club or team for you or your child
Finding the right inclusive football club or pan disability football session for a young player to join is not always straightforward and for children and young adults with a disability or additional needs, the decision can sometimes be difficult. The following provides some tips for finding the right inclusive team or disability football training session;
Getting your child used to being in groups of other children, playing games, getting experience and just getting used to passing a ball around in whatever format is a great idea. Each child is different, but if safe for the child, the younger the better it is to start, and if you do not manage to join a group, play in the garden if you have one or go to a local park as much as possible, with a soft ball or a sponge football at first if they are very young. Look for inclusive introduction to football session in your local area. If there isn’t much choice, chat to your local club to see if they would start something up.
Do your research
Ask around – other parents/carers/teachers will know of inclusive teams, but remember each child/young adult is an individual, so what works for one, may not for another, and opinions will vary, so always check it out yourself. Chat to the coaches, visit the sessions, get a feel for whether it suits the needs of your child or ask for a free trial session to try it.
It may seem obvious, but no matter what age, the child/young adult should be involved in the decision and have some control about what they want and the type of training they would prefer.
Where possible, try to find a team that is near to where you live. If you don’t have to travel too far, especially if using public transport, this takes the pressure off. It is good to be in a routine, and as there is a certain amount of commitment needed from parents/carers to take players to training and matches, it will help if there isn’t too much travel time.
Use the inclusive football club finder here to find a team or inclusive, pan disability, SEN football sessions near you.
Being local gives the young person a chance to develop local friendships and there may also be some familiar faces at the club to help settle them in.
Communication is key
Get in touch with the coach of the inclusive football training session or organiser first to chat through what you are looking for. They may invite you to watch a training session first. Don’t just turn up at a training session – always arrange it first – it will be difficult for the coach to talk to you properly whilst they are training a group.
Go along for a trial and see how it goes. Some players may only want to go for a short amount of time and build it up gradually. Be guided by the needs of your child/young adult and take the advice of the coaches.
Take things step by step without pressure. Remember it’s important for your child/young adult to have fun and enjoy the sessions. As they build their confidence, their football development will come.
Check that the coaches and club have all the necessary coaching qualifications, first aid and safeguarding practices in place. How is the coaching team structured and do they have enough coaches. See the FA’s guide to: Choosing a Club for your Child. There is other helpful information via www.thefa.com