But what about the opportunities available in Wales?
Rob Franklin is Regional Development Coordinator at the Welsh Football Trust and talks through the opportunities in the game in Wales.
The Welsh Football Trust currently operates three Pan-Disability league structures across Wales, (South/East, West & North) providing opportunities for all to compete from 8 years of age and beyond.
In general, our work has focused on five areas:
· Participation- to provide players with a disability the opportunities to participate in regular organised coaching and competition structures. The key aim being the development of a pan-disability football club in each local authority of Wales.
· Development of clubs and competition structures- to improve the standards of existing and new clubs through approved criteria and to develop new teams and competitions on a local, regional and national level.
· Coaches and volunteers- to recruit and develop coaches, officials and volunteers to support theorganisation and structure of disability football in Wales.
· Identification and support of talented players- to raise standards of play to support the future success of potential national disability specific teams.
· Profile and media awareness-to increase positive awareness of disability football in Wales.
Understandably, at the Paralympic Games, the 5-a-side football (blind and VI) has been popular with the public.
In Wales, players with sensory impairments are able to compete at pan-disability clubs, but there are visually impaired teams out there should this not be the right environment. Swansea VIP’s have offered visually impaired sessions for many years and more recently (June 2012), Cardiff City and a side linked to Conwy’s Disability Sport Wales Programme have been developed (both clubs cater for juniors and adults).
While there is no specific league at the moment for those with a sensory impairment, once there are enough players attending existing clubs a games programme can be set up in Wales, which in-turn will create a player base to develop a National partially sighted and/or blind football team.
Based on the number of registered blind/partially sighted individuals and the geographical population spread we know there aren’t going to be teams in every county hence the reason we only have three hub/clubs of activity at the moment.
So, the message is, if you want a game, go along and give it a try.
On another positive note, our first ever Welsh National Learning Disability Football Squad will come together on September 23rd & 24th. In another milestone for football in Wales, they are getting ready to play their first ever international match, versus Northern Ireland which will take place in November.
For more on Welsh Football Trust visit www.welshfootballtrust.org.uk