There are numerous opportunities for players with a disability, ranging from youth and adult grassroots clubs to school provision to the more elite player pathway with exit routes into the England Disability Squads.
Grassroots / Club Football:
Somerset FA supports a large number of Ability Counts Clubs. The Ability Counts Clubs were established specifically for players with disabilities. All of these clubs have shown a commitment to providing opportunities for disabled people to take part in coaching and competitive football and are the hub for disability football in the County.
Somerset FA Ability Counts County League:
The Ability Counts league is for players with a disability who want to play football. The league has adult (male and female) and junior football provision, and caters for all levels of ability. Fixtures are held approximately once a month during the season, with teams from across the County.
There is an excellent level of football for young people and adults. The league aims to provide a positive experience and opportunities into the disability player pathway. Contact details for individual Ability Counts Clubs can acquired through Somerset FA.
Elite Disability Player Pathway / Excellence Programme:
Somerset FA is dedicated to providing all levels of disability football, and therefore we also provide an Excellence programme to support talented disabled players. As a player, if you want to strive to be the best within the game then there is a structured pathway to aid your development.
As part of the commitment from The FA and County FAs to continually improve the opportunities for disabled players, Regional Impairment Specific Centres of Excellences have been put in place across the Country. These Centres of Excellence focuses on teaching players the techniques and formats of the game that is played at International level, thereby better equipping players to reach their potential. Somerset FA is proud to host The South West Regional Partially Sighted & Deaf Centre of Excellence and this programme supports players between the ages of 12 – 18 years who have either a visual impairment or have a hearing impairment or are deaf. The South West Regional Cerebral Palsy Centre of Excellence is fully supported by Somerset FA, held in Bridgwater, Somerset, and hosted by Devon FA.
Somerset FA also runs a Talent ID programme which caters for male players between the age of 12-16 years and represent; Cerebral Palsy, Visual Impaired, Deaf / Hearing Impaired, Amputee (leg & arm) and Learning Disabilities. This programme focuses on technical development of individual players with the aim to signpost players to their most appropriate next step within the player pathway.
Disability Football within Education:
Somerset FA works closely with all 14 special schools in the area together with mainstream schools to support players with a disability. We provide an expansive Inclusive Schools League which offers schools and players a competitive league structure. We also provide curriculum time coaching, again with special schools or mainstream schools to raise the profile and awareness of disability football within the County.
Due to the numerous programmes and disability clubs within the County, we are keen to support individuals to get involved in disability football, particularly through coaching. We offer various coaching courses and mentoring schemes to support individuals to be appropriately qualified and have the knowledge and experience to get involved.
Compass Disability Network:
Do you live in Somerset and want to have your say on how services for disabled people and carers are developed across the County? Then why not join the Compass Disability Network, it's free and you will have the chance to join in local disability forums, topic focus groups, or answer questionnaires. Call Mandy or Nat on 01823 282823, email firstname.lastname@example.org, Text/phone: 07568 109960, Minicom: 01823 255919 or visit website: www.compassdisabilitynetwork.org.uk.
For more information on Disability football within Somerset, please contact Alix Tucker, Disability Football Development Officer on 01458 832359 or email: email@example.com