Hopes of kicking off West Oxfordshire’s first inclusive football team
Inclusive football training will be running for FREE as part of a pilot to give more young disabled people in West Oxfordshire the chance to get involved in the sport.
Sessions for 12 to 16-year-olds, led by an Oxfordshire Football Association qualified coach, will start on Saturday 26 April as part of a project co-ordinated by West Oxfordshire District Council. They will take place:
at Carterton Artificial Turf Pitch (ATP), Upavon Way
weekly until 19 July (excluding 10 May)
The sessions will be free thanks to support from Witney’s Tower Hill Football Club and the District Council’s leisure contractor, Better.
Tower Hill Football Club is using the pilot to find out if there is enough interest and demand to set up a team for disabled players. If successful, the club hopes to enter a team in the BOBI (Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Inclusive) Under-16s League.
Tower Hill coach Tracy Mathias will be leading the sessions and has been keen to get involved in the project after her 13-year-old son was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.
She said: “At the moment there is nothing out there in terms of football locally for disabled people and, as a club we’re growing and have boys and girls teams, and adult teams, but don’t offer anything for those with disabilities.
“The hope is that we’ll be able to create the opportunity for other young people out there who need an alternative to mainstream football. I’m seeing it first-hand with my own son who was recently diagnosed (with Asperger syndrome) and think it could make a real difference. Hopefully, people will come along and give it a try.”
Cllr Richard Langridge, the Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for leisure, said: “This is part of our wider work, both with local sports and arts clubs and within our own leisure facilities, to improve inclusiveness and create more opportunities for more disabled people to participate in activities in West Oxfordshire.
“We would like to thank Tower Hill Football Club and Oxfordshire Football Association for supporting the pilot and we very much hope it will be a success.”
The Council launched an Inclusion Symbol last week at the West Oxfordshire Sports Awards 2014, which will be awarded to sports and arts club that welcome people of all abilities.
The first recipients of the Symbol were Windrush Valley Boxing Club, Witney Music Society, and Witney RFC, which has already set up Witney Wolves tag rugby team for over-7s who have a range of disabilities. Last year, the club hosted the 2013 SEN International Tag Rugby Festival.
Tower Hill Football Club is working towards being among the next phase of Symbol recipients.
To find out more about the free inclusive football training sessions, call the Council’s leisure team on 01993 861080.
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