Local disability football continues to grow as we offer a wide range of opportunities through a club network, with activity available for PAN Disability, Cerebral Palsy, visually and hearing impaired and frame football.
Any individual can play ‘Soccability’, including people facing Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) challenges, those with a physical disability, people lacking confidence or individuals using frames. We're involved in ongoing efforts to increase participation for all.
Projects include engaging with local FA Charter Standard clubs to offer recreational disability opportunities. Schools Soccability Festivals are delivered across the county, working with Essex’s professional clubs, while awareness is being generated for the Soccability League.
The Soccability League continues grow, with five adult and two youth divisions. By the end of the 2017/18 season there were 60 sides affiliated to the County FA overall, 30 of whom participate in this countywide competition. It has also become independent, now taking place at PlayFootball in Colchester with adults and youths both playing on the same day.
There are six teams in each youth age group (Under 12s to 16s) and the County FA’s Youth Forum are looking at expanding to two venues at PlayFootball Colchester and Southend. The Adult League has 18 teams across four divisions (Premiership, Championship, League 1 and League 2).
Meanwhile, a partnership has been piloted with a Special Educational Needs (SEN) school and a local FA Charter Standard club to increase youth participation and allow the club to cater for the wider community. They have taken on all administrative duties, including applying for Football Foundation ‘Grow the Game’ funding, while the school is responsible for the practical elements.
The County FA additionally host the FA Disability People’s Cup, with many sides entering the competition’s categories at small-sided venues around the county. In 2018, Basildon Soccability successfully qualified for the National Finals, but lost on penalties, while Westcliff United went on to win the ‘Premiership’ category.
A new wellbeing session has also launched in Colchester with Futures in Mind, Disability4Sport and North-East Mind, and a ‘Talent Identification Day’ was delivered last March, which progressed onto a Talent Hub delivered by Disability4Sport. The hub has been very successful, with a number of players attending and two young girls progressing to a regional emerging programme.
A Refereeing Disability Workshop was also delivered to equip referees with the knowledge of refereeing in the disability game and Cindi Chatha, Disability Football Development Officer at the Essex County FA, is delighted with the increase in local Soccability structures.
“Every individual should have access to football which meets their needs, regardless of ability, disability or impairment,” she explained. “We’ve been developing a map of all our disability sessions which we’re very proud of, and this is now accessible on our website.”
After a recent Soccability event, Simon Best from Lancaster School in Southend-on-Sea, added: “The students really enjoy having the chance to play at a different school and with different teams. I will be entering the school into the college events. With the buzz around the event today, I was able to recruit two girls in our Year 10 group to come to the next under 16s event.”
You can find out more about opportunities to play local disability football in the menus above. Information is also shared on Twitter by @EssexCountyFA and you can also search for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook for regular updates.