Midleton Football Club has fully embraced the Football for All programme, whose popularity is growing year on year. This programme provides the opportunity for children with special needs to discover, join in and compete in “the beautiful game”. It encourages the inclusion of children with any manner of extra physical, intellectual and sensory needs and facilitates meaningful competition between similar teams in a safe, friendly and fun environment.
Speaking with The East Cork Journal, Head Coach Ken O’Connell said, “We don’t just bring the kids along to training. They have real goals to work towards, particularly the older children who have a real chance, if they show skill and dedication, to getting on the Munster or even Ireland team. As well as the benefits for the children through competition, fun, companionship and learning teamwork social skills, we’ve noticed over the years the benefits to parents. The side-lines of the pitches are great venues for chatting with other parents of children with special needs, and giving and receiving advice, or just being able to interact as adults while the children focus on football. We’ve seen great parental support, and someone always brings along the tea! We would encourage any parent interested in finding out more to come along to a training session which takes place each Saturday from 3-4pm at the club. We always allow the child to partake in a few sessions to see if they like football, before making any commitment to a team.”
With Ken, there are 5 other coaches who help out with this programme and two 16+ coaches who themselves have come up through the programme and know how to relate their experience to new members. Ken continued, “Parents are the key to getting their children involved and making full use of programmes like this to unleash a child’s potential.”
What one may not be aware of is that world renowned soccer player, Lionel Messi is said to have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of Autism) at the age of 9. There are no limits to achievement, regardless of any diagnosis, once a child finds that special interest to unlock their potential. Why not take the opportunity to see if that potential is football?
For more information on the Football for All Programme at Midleton Football club please contact ken O’Connell on 087 4118811.