Women’s and disabled football

Football has always been a people’s game, all you need is a ball and some friends and you can play it almost anywhere. Football is probably the most popular sport in the world not only for men but for women too (over 90,000 registered), and it is easy to get involved. For anyone actually wanting to get started playing organised football, there are various opportunities to play at different levels throughout the country with over 2,000 leagues and 40,000 clubs. The levels vary from 5-a-side leagues either indoor or outdoor, to 11-a-side leagues played on a Saturday or Sunday. These leagues are all different with some purely for recreational players and others who want to play competitively. Clubs and leagues are enrolled with their County FA, which organises football in the local area.

‘The Grassroots development’ scheme developed by the National Governing body has grown rapidly in recent years with the launch of the ‘National Game Division of the F.A’ in 2000. The National Game division is funding grassroots by channelling over �30m a year into football’s grassroots. This development is the start of a new dawn for English football and could be the catalyst for a ‘revolution’ in the English game. It will improve the state of English Football for years to come with better quality pitches, floodlights changing rooms and other additional facilities for clubs across the land. For instance junior footballers in Cumbria are celebrating our regions largest ever cash boost for football with 78,984 awarded to Kirkby Stephen FC. The boost will allow the club to construct a clubhouse, two changing rooms, female and disabled toilets, kitchen and a storeroom.

The scheme is sponsored by the ‘Football Foundation’, which receives its money from TV and uses its funds to improve the safety of grounds, pitch drainage, floodlights and changing rooms. Special coaching schools run by most professional clubs during the summer usually featuring star guests are an excellent way to get young kids involved. These cost approximately �50-�250 per week depending on the status of the host club.

Football, being the world’s most popular sport is also the easiest to get involved with. To find out about playing opportunities you can easily contact the County FA, which can put you in touch with the people running the clubs and leagues in the required area and at the correct level of ability. All ‘elite’ performers in the UK (Even David Beckham) started their playing days in their own garden, this then leads to a ‘love’ for the game and progresses to playing organised football at junior levels usually U10’s. This then leads to selection for your local school team. Your first main step to becoming pro is to be selected for the district team.

This team is selected using references from your school football coach. County selectors then visit these matches and watch for any players reaching the required level. The county team is then selected and travel the country playing against several other counties. These matches are then viewed by club scouts who watch with great care and try to ‘unearth’ any future stars. The club scouts then select a few potential stars from each county to go on trail at whichever club they represent. This is the last step to turning pro and, probably the barrier at which most youngsters fail. This is then the perfect stage to be selected for the U16-U19 international teams and then sign a professional contract and you have finally made it into the big time. The final step is the greatest of all which is representing your country at the full level, which is what every youth in the country dreams of.

There are several other agencies and bodies representing football all with one aim to make football a better game for everybody. For instance the Sports Action Zones (SAZ) attempt to introduce football in areas deprived of sports. They try to create an effective balanced sporting structure throughout the country and not just in rich areas. There are a number of organisations that provide opportunities in football for people with learning of physical disabilities. The FA has been becoming more aware of the needs of disabled people to participate in sport. Special organisations have been set up funded by the FA to improve the world of sport for all disabled people.

For example the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) and the founding of the Special Olympics and Paralympics have improved their chances. Disabled Football has yet to develop in Cumbria, which is disappointing for anyone it, directly affects. Carlisle United however are trying to get disabled people involved by providing disabled access to all matches which is increasing there knowledge of football and hopefully will inspire them to play. A special Olympics was been set up called the Parolympics this is purely for people with disabilities and due to this disabled superstars known for their courage and self-belief have been created such as Tanny Grey-Thompson.

Evaluating all this research I believe that football is one of the most organised, easiest to get involved and most funded sport worldwide. With over 40,000 clubs in the UK alone it should be relatively easy for anyone to start playing for a local team whether they are, of mixed race, disabled or a woman. This is all due to the wonderful and thoughtful hard work put in by the FA and other various agencies and governing bodies. These organise charity events and apply for lottery grants to gain the funds to flood football with ‘even more’ money e.g. Sportsmatch, Sport Relief and the WSF. In order for women’s and disabled football to be as popular and financially rewarding I think that the money needs to be kept up for several years.

Wimbledon don’t Just specify in courses for young fit athletes they also have started up a Wimbledon disabled football club Which was launched on the 1st April 2000 by the FA Chief Executive. This new partnership to promote disabled football …

There seems to be no disabled clubs in the region that I know off, but there are opportunities for the mentally or physically handicapped to participate in football. I do know of disabled schools in the region that have football …

And lots more. Local leisure centers, and sports centers provide activities and facilities for football to happen for all ages. Football does not have really had some sort of grading for the sport. Footballers are given a title depending on which …

It is estimated that around 70 thousand boys play football, for either a school or club team, at each age level between the age ranges of Under 11 to Under 16, and that over 500 thousand play between the ages …

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